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The Cavaliers are Cool Again

Cleveland has announced a 255% year-over-year increase in retail sales. You read that right.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are unquestionably cool again. Even without LeBron James.

Led by All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, and Rookie of the Year favorite Evan Mobley, the Cavs are on pace to make the playoffs without LeBron James for the first time since the 1997-98 season. Koby Altman is, rightly, the NBA Executive of the Year frontrunner.

That coolness factor in Northeast Ohio and across the country has resulted in a 255% year-over-year increase in retail sales, according to team data. That includes a 70% increase in web traffic at the online team shop.

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To build buzz with consumers, the team has collaborated with national and local brands like And So on…, Swish Authentics, iLTHY, Just Don, Mitchell & Ness, Xhibition, New Era, Lululemon, Sportique and Homage. And to make merch easier to purchase for a younger audience, the Cavs were one of the NBA’s first teams to launch Instagram Checkout, where followers could make a team shop purchase without leaving the website or app.

The Cavs have also tapped into the area’s art scene to add some hometown flavor. Creative director Daniel Arsham has curated the Cavs Artist Series in his Arsham Selects collective as part of an initiative geared toward working with local artists. Cleveland artist Glenn Infante and Toledo-based artist Paul Verdell have designed apparel available for sale by the club.

“Having a retail team that not only understands and is aware of the latest trends, but has a passion for fashion, art, music, and design is at the core of why we’ve seen such success,” Chris Kaiser, the Cavs’ vice president of marketing, told Boardroom. “Together, we are nimble and move quickly to capitalize on what we think our fans will appreciate and ultimately wear to rep their team.”

At All-Star weekend, the Cavs joined forces with StockX as part of a major pop-up store takeover and retail collaboration that sold items from Arsham Studio, Humanmade x Kid Cudi, New Era, Mitchell & Ness, Franchise Magazine, and New York Sunshine, among others. During the three days of the pop-up, they were able to sell more than 900 items that brought in more than $200,000 in revenue, the Cavs said.

“Collaborative pieces with both independent designers and major brands have also become a key part of our business and a way to expand our reach to a much broader audience,” Kaiser said. “But when it comes down to it, it is our team members that drive us forward, and we have a great team here that continues to push the boundaries.”