Around this time last year, I started a thread after I visited one of those calendar stores that pops up every year just before Christmas. I noticed there was no calender there for the CFL (or Canadian football in general), but they did have one for lacrosse, whose following is minor in comparison to the CFL’s, as well as for the usual suspects, such as the NHL, NFL, etc. and their teams. I happened across one of those stores again a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t notice anything from lacrosse this year (didn’t look), but I did see one from rugby, another sport whose following is relatively minor in comparison to the CFL’s, but again, there was nothing to represent Canadian football.
I have to think, if there’s a market for calendars of smaller sports like rugby and lacrosse, then there should be a market for something to do with Canadian football as well. Maybe not the CFL specifically, but perhaps the CFL and CIS could get together and publish one together, or maybe Football Canada could produce one.
The lack of a calendar is not a huge deal to me, in and of itself. (I probably wouldn’t buy one if it were there, since I get enough free calendars from elsewhere that I don’t need to buy more.) This is just a special case of what I think is a more general problem, namely that there seems to be so little merchandising in Ontario outside of Hamilton and Toronto (though I haven’t shopped enough in Toronto to know what the situation is really like there). I can find a CFL ball, but almost nothing else anywhere.
There’s a store called Lids that sells nothing but baseball caps, representing all sorts of teams from all sorts of sports. The must sell hundreds of different hats but nothing from the CFL. Even SportChek, partly owned by CFL guys (up until recently, at least. I think it got bought by Canadian Tire), has nothing from the CFL other than CFL balls (I once struck up a conversation with a friend of the TiCats’ Matt Kirk while checking them out). Of course, SportChek’s gig is sporting equipment more than merch, but they do have stuff from other sports including a bunch from TFC and a small handful of stuff from Montreal Impact, both of MLS. So why not some stuff from the CFL? There’s only one store that carried any CFL merchandise beyond balls in recent memory, but they were those old-school leather helmets, which I don’t imagine are huge sellers anywhere. That store sells toques, scarves, mugs, glasses, etc. for other teams. I imagine they could sell CFL versions of those better than the leather helmets, if they bothered to carry them.
Has anyone else here from Ontario noticed similar things where they live, especially those outside of Toronto or Hamilton? Why does the CFL merchandising seem so weak outside of certain cities? Does this represent a missed opportunity, or is it something that’s been tried but failed? I.e. is the problem the CFL for failing to try or the fans for failing to buy?
To me, it feels like a missed opportunity, but I don’t know enough about the business to know for sure.