While some fans have expressed sadness over the elimination of the NASCAR haulers, a fixture for years at each and every racetrack, there was great excitement today as the new NASCAR Trackside Superstore debuted at Pocono Raceway.
The new superstore appeared at Pocono Raceway like a gigantic circus-like tent the size of 1.5 football fields, with about 60,000 square feet of merchandise. In fact, there was $2.5 million worth of merchandise under the tent available for fans to browse and purchase.
NASCAR officials, representatives of Fanatics Authentic, the new merchandiser in the superstore, and several Cup drivers, including Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. were on hand to unveil the new souvenir facility.
“We’ve seen a lot of ideas and thoughts on paper and we’ve seen results of what the Fanatics group had done throughout other sports industries, but to see it at our race event here in Pocono for the first time, it just knocks you off your feet,” Mike Helton, NASCAR Vice President, said. “The shopping experience our fans now have at the event is incredible.”
“I’m very excited.”
“There will be people that go, ‘I’ve been coming here for 20 years. I love the haulers,’ and I know they’re going to be disappointed,” Ross Tannenbaum, Fanatics Authentic President, said. “I think once they shop and get more involved in this, I think they’ll go, ‘I really miss the haulers, but I really like the shopping experience.”
“The real goal for us is to learn everything we can and offer the best experience we can for the last portion of the 2015 season but make 2016 the real launching pad for what this model will look like when we go to Daytona for the 500 in February,” Tannenbaum continued.
“That’s our goal.”
The two drivers in attendance at the superstore debut, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick, also pronounced it good.
“I think it’s awesome,” Truex, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Chevrolet said. “It just seems so much more simple to me. There’s no trying to find the haulers and not sure where everything is at.”
“I know for me, the last two years, we get a lot of questions on Twitter and everywhere else about, well I couldn’t find one of your hats last week or this and that. It just makes things a lot simpler in a central location for everywhere.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Budweiser Chevrolet, echoed his colleague’s positive sentiments about the new store. In fact, he revealed that some of his fan club gatherings will move to the superstore in the future.
Some of the other features of the new trackside superstore include the ability to touch and feel the merchandise before purchasing, the elimination of long lines at the hauler with the new efficient check-out system, and the future option to have merchandise personalized.
Another positive feature, at least for the race tracks, are that they too will share in the profits of the new superstore.
“I can tell you this, in dealing with every one of the tracks, every one of the teams, everyone within NASCAR, the vendors and everybody, they couldn’t be more supportive,” Tannenbaum said, adding that each track will get a share of the sales revenue from the superstore. “Everybody is trying to achieve the same goal which is to improve the retail experience for the fans at a NASCAR race.”
Even Brandon Igdalsky, the Pocono Raceway President and CEO, acknowledged that all has gone well with the set-up of the tent, even with some rain coming down. His excitement spilled over into social media, with his tweet “Excited to be the 1st track to launch the new @NASCAR Trackside Superstore @poconoraceway @Fanatics #Windows10_400”.
Fans who visited the superstore for the first time also gave positive reviews. And that after all was the goal of NASCAR in the first place.
“I think that the winner in all of this is the fan, because the fan’s going to have not just a better experience, but the fan is going to have opportunity for a different product that they currently don’t have an opportunity to have, and to me that’s going to be the game-changer,” Steve Phelps, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said.
“It’s just a better opportunity to interact with the product and see it.”