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In Frazeysburg, Ohio, a village of 1,316 people one hour east of Columbus, there is 560,000 square feet of floor space piled three stories high with virtually every piece of sports memorabilia and team-branded products a fan could want.
Frazeysburg houses one of seven factory and distribution centers worldwide for Fanatics, the largest retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise in the world. (An eighth is set to open in North Las Vegas in 2017.)
But one aspect of the Frazeysburg facility is unique: Inside is a 75,000-square-foot room containing pallet after pallet of products commemorating the Chicago Cubs' World Series title.
There are Cubs World Series champion can coolers and coffee warmers. Watch bands and dog collars. Christmas stockings and golf divot tool packs. Board shorts and bottle openers. Not to mention items signed by anywhere from one to 20 players from the Cubs' first World Series champion team in 108 years.
And there are jerseys. So many jerseys. Wander the corridors away from the Cubs holding area, and you'll find the rest of Major League Baseball. The NFL, NBA, NHL and NASCAR. Any college team. Even a growing number of English Premier League soccer teams. All in officially licensed colors, fonts and fabrics.
"We are an absolute headquarters for the jersey business for each of the leagues," said Jack Boyle, Fanatics' president of merchandising.
"The jersey is one of the top holiday gifts every year, by far," added Meier Raivich, Fanatics' vice president for communications and corporate branding.
Yet in the face of this massive supply and demand, Fanatics also has found a way to go small, by looking for what they call micro-moments, a singular action or result in a sporting event that is likely to go viral. They'll do a 14 seed beating a 3seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. The eight laterals Miami (Fla.) used to beat Duke in college football. The Golden State Warriors' record-breaking 73rd win.
Fanatics watches for these occurrences and commemorates them on T-shirts and other apparel for nearly instantaneous distribution. And it makes them to order: The company only prints what is bought, one customer's click to submit at a time.
"There's a lot of unplanned events at any given time, whether it be a season-long trend like the (Dallas) Cowboys winning nine in a row or like a seventh-game World Series win out of the Cubs," Boyle said.
"The one that brought a lot of scale to the business was when Odell Beckham Jr. introduced himself with his one-handed catch. We captured that moment, we captured it on product, we captured it in graphics, and we were able to put that product up right away."
Fanatics expects to process more than 10 million orders between Black Friday and Christmas, with nearly half the orders coming via mobile devices. It expects more than 70 million unique visitors to Fanatics.com and the rest of its platform of websites.
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