Patriots’ defeat throws businesses for a loss

By Erin Ailworth
Globe Staff / January 19, 2011

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The “Brady Bunch’’ T-shirts are no longer big sellers at Boston Sports Apparel Co. The “Go Patriots’’ cakes and cookies are half-off at Shaw’s supermarkets. And the owners of Barleycorn’s Craft Brew are bracing for a decline in business at the company’s annual gathering for football fans who want to make their own beer for Super Bowl parties.

With Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets, the Patriots are no longer in the running for the Super Bowl. For Bay State businesses, that may mean missed sales as Patriots fans — those who had planned to throw big game-watching parties or who would have snapped up sports souvenirs — are likely to keep their wallets closed.

Chris Cakebread, who teaches advertising at Boston University, said any business that caters to Patriots fans will probably lose sales because the team is no longer in contention. How much, though, is hard to quantify.

“It takes a lot of wind out of people’s sails — sails and sales,’’ he said, adding that businesses that chose to be more conservative with Super Bowl marketing and merchandise will be less hard hit than those that gambled on a Patriots win.

“The only lesson is that there is no sure thing in life, especially sports,’’ he said.

Mahlon Williams, who owns Boston Sports Apparel Co., said he has been burned enough times by sports losses that he has learned to play it safe when deciding what T-shirts to print. He recently turned down a design featuring Jets coach Rex Ryan for just that reason.

And the popular “Brady Bunch’’ shirts he had printed with likenesses of Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Deion Branch and others was designed to sell both this season and next, because he’s expecting that all the players will still be Patriots.

And that’s a good thing, Williams said, because reorders of the shirt, which were going for about $15, have all but stopped with the Patriots out of the Super Bowl run. “Monday morning, it was crickets,’’ he said, and that’s profits that are “tied up until next season.’’

“It’s painful. I’ve got thousands, thousands of a very hot shirt that everyone loved and that we’ve sold tons of. But we were planning on selling a lot more, and it’s just not happening,’’ Williams said. “Thankfully, it wasn’t anything that said, ‘Patriots: Super Bowl Champs of 2011.’ ’’

Dan Eng, president at Barleycorn’s Craft Brew in Natick, said about half of the customers brewing for the Super Bowl disappear when the Patriots don’t play.

“Back in ’07, when they made the Super Bowl the last time, there was definitely a flurry of activity,’’ said Eng, who recalled that Barleycorn’s promoted an ale called “Troy’s Brown,’’ in honor of now-retired Patriot Troy Brown. “When they don’t make the Super Bowl, the number of people who actually have parties diminishes.’’

At Shaw’s yesterday, a 12-inch chocolate cookie frosted with a “Go Patriots’’ message in blue was selling for $3.99, down from $7.99, while the price of a 7-inch single-layer gold cake had been cut in half to $2.99.

Shaw’s spokesman Steve Sylven said the grocery chain does not release sales estimates and could not tell how much the Patriots’ loss would affect shopper’s decisions.

“We do have a few promotions that were already planned that are geared toward the Super Bowl [and those] were designed not necessarily around the Patriots, but more so just knowing how much New Englanders love football,’’ Sylven said.

Of course, not every shop expects the team’s loss to have a negative impact on business. Sometimes the residual effects are more emotional than monetary.

Don Bailey, general manager at Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill near Fenway Park, said customers will still pack the bar on Super Bowl Sunday, no matter what teams play. The mood, however, might be off.

“The excitement and the atmosphere is really going to be affected in the sense that it won’t be a homer crowd,’’ he said, adding that there might be a silver lining in that sports enthusiasts will now try to recover by turning their attention to Boston’s other teams.

Erin Ailworth can be reached at