NFL fans pick up latest gear of favorite teams during draft

Dameon Cooper of Los Angeles checks out the Warren Lotas x Mitchell & Ness capsule collecti ...

Football fans were still out grabbing gear on day two of the NFL draft, including Las Vegas Raiders followers.

Shoppers inside Fashion Show Las Vegas’ The Raider Image store could be seen scanning the wall-to-wall displays of Raiders T-shirts, jerseys and caps. Just outside the shop’s doors a massive screen, hoisted above the mall’s Great Hall, was playing live coverage of the NFL draft, which was set to start in less than an hour.

Victoria Wright and Aaron Harris were in town from Kansas City, Missouri.

“After we leave here, we’re going over there (NFL draft stage),” Wright said. “We’re excited. It’s his birthday weekend.”

She said they’re looking forward to relaxing and hanging out on the Strip, adding that she didn’t realize the draft was taking place until they arrived.

“No, she didn’t know, but I did,” Harris quipped, chuckling.

He was trying on a black hat with a Raiders shield logo. Wright said the couple were Kansas City Chiefs fans, but Harris jokingly told her to shush while looking over at store manager Jackie Kaufman. Kaufman quickly replied, “Welcome to the dark side.”

Sure enough, the Chiefs fan ultimately purchased a cap.

Kaufman said its most popular item, a $35 black T-shirt featuring the NFL draft logo, sold out Friday morning, adding that on Thursday morning a line of customers were waiting before the store opened at 11 a.m.

Activations and athlete sightings

There’s no shortage of fan experiences along the Strip from concerts, giveaways to special events.

The NFL Las Vegas store inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace lined up meet-and-greet events with athletes such as the Las Vegas Raiders’ Kenyan Drake from 3-4 p.m. and Josh Jacobs from 4-5 p.m. on Saturday.

Operations Manager Michelle Marchant said customers are noticeably excited inside the store.

The NFL and Legends store opened in January and is the only NFL retail store worldwide, offering the biggest selection of merchandise from all 32 teams. “This is kind of like our Christmas so we just made sure we’re ready to rock ’n’ roll,” she said.

Marchant said the most popular item has been its NFL draft hat, which comes with free customization.

“The other big thing is the jerseys,” she said. “We’re the only ones that can customize all 32 team jerseys. They can put their own name or number or it could be a retired player as well.”

Maureen Crampton, Forum Shops’ director of marketing and business development, said the mall was prepared for the surge of shoppers.

She noted stores have staffed up and others such as Nike and Field of Dreams were also hosting events.

“It feels even more dynamic,” Crampton said. “It definitely puts Las Vegas back on the map in addition to Formula One coming next year and the Super Bowl coming after.It’s interesting to see the evolution of Las Vegas moving into a sports destination because we’ve always been known for so many other things for so long.”

When it comes to football, the Las Vegas Raiders certainly helped put Las Vegas on the map as a sports destination. And it rolled out stores to help locals and visitors cover themselves in silver and black.

“What’s exciting about the draft is that it’s a chance to celebrate the Raiders, our fans and the city of Las Vegas,” said Cristina McAloon, senior manager of buying for The Raider Image. “So we’re definitely seeing that excitement translate to sales.”

McAloon said popular items include its draft-branded caps, exclusive T-shirts, mini helmets and drinkware.

Raider Image also opened five pop-up shops for the draft along the Strip and on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have such a loyal following and even more grateful to be here in Las Vegas,” McAloon said.

But even those who may not be diehard Raiders fans can still appreciate the merchandise.

Peter Terrones from Atlanta, was at the Raider Image store in Fashion Show, just hours after landing into Las Vegas.

He was in town for his friend’s bachelor party and said it was “pretty cool” that it coincided with the draft. While he’s not a devoted fan, Terrones was wearing a Raiders cap with the pirate logo, but was looking to possibly purchase a jacket too.

“I love the logo. I love the colors,” he said. “It’s badass.”

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Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.