A benefit of living in the South Bay Area as a San Jose Sharks fan means I’m able to visit the Sharks Store at SAP or the Pro Shop at Solar4America Ice. Living in Bay Area offers local fans the opportunity to attend several Sharks events every season such as #TurnUpInTeal, street rallies, and watch parties.
However, if you’re a Sharks fan living outside the general region, it’s obviously a bit more difficult finding Sharks exclusives. Connecting with other fans of team teal can also be an arduous task. That’s all changing.
Recently, the Sharks announced the 1991 Club, a global fan club for the San Jose Sharks. For a 1-year membership, the cost is $25.00 while a 10-year “legend” membership is $200. The membership includes a few goodies such as a lapel pin, decal, and membership card. The more intriguing part of the membership comes in the form of exclusive content and a community portal.
The exclusive content includes extended Mic’d Up videos, “Perspectives from the Past”, a member of the month feature, a 91 club exclusive podcast, and more.
Perspectives from the Past features stories and thoughts from alumni, coaches, and staff regarding their experiences with the Sharks. A member of the month feature focuses on a single club member. This feature gives a fan the opportunity to share their Sharks stories with the community.
The community portal is an interesting, location-based feature. Simply input your zip code to find nearby sports bars or event locations to connect with other Sharks fans. You can also add the info for your local watering hole so other fans will know where to watch the Sharks in that area. It should be interesting to watch how the club content evolves.
The Pro Shop at Solar4America
As many people know, I’m not a fan of Fanatics merchandise. I find their poor attention to detail and inconsistent quality unacceptable. Therefore, I refuse to purchase any product with a Fanatics logo on it. Unfortunately, Fanatics makes the vast majority of product sold on the official NHL retailer, shop.nhl.com. For fans outside the Bay Area, it’s one of few options to get their Sharks swag. However, they don’t carry the cool, limited Sharks merch only available locally such as Sharks Freak gear.
Fanatics began running the Sharks Store at SAP a couple seasons ago. Since that change, the store’s policy is an order must reach a $125 threshold for them to ship phone orders outside the Bay Area. Clearly not every fan can afford to spend over a hundred dollars every time the Sharks come out with new, limited merch like a shirt or sticker. What is a fan to do?
During a recent visit to the Pro Shop, I was told they are working on options to allow fans to purchase items online, outside of NHL shop. The plan is to have all Sharks merch in the Pro Shop available to order. This includes caps, t-shirts, polos, hoodies, and jerseys. Since the prevailing stock is made by Adidas, and other manufacturers not named Fanatics, product quality should never be in doubt.
The Pro Shop also features items not available at SAP Center such as the Stealth hoodie and cap pictured inset.
Along with authentic jerseys, the site is planning to feature Fanatics replicas as well. However, the stitching or heat pressing will be done in-house for quality assurance.
Personalized jerseys will also be available in case you want your own name and number on a jersey.
In my opinion, these changes are long overdue and I have high hopes for success. I believe every team should run their own merch shop rather than a single company for the entire league. In my experience, independent workshops inspire and motivate interesting and creative designs. I also think it’s a great move for Sharks fans to have a single portal to connect with other fans in their region. This is great news for locals, but even better for Sharks fans outside the San Jose area.
We recently spoke with Doug Bentz, San Jose Sharks VP of Marketing and Digital, about the changes fans can look forward to.