Only sports junkies need apply for admission to OfficialStuff.com. In a nation packed with millions of hard-core fans, this site may be just the ticket to finding authentic programs for major athletic events including the Super Bowl, World Series, NCAA Final Four tournament and more. This may generate a big yawn to nonsports fans, but for enthusiasts, OfficialStuff is providing coveted souvenirs (at around $15 per program) that aren't easily obtainable elsewhere. Some $250,000 in orders poured in during just the first six weeks after the company's November 1998 launch, according to Eric Douglass, OfficialStuff's founder and CEO.
"I looked around the Web and couldn't believe this opportunity had been missed," says Douglass, 38. Deals were easily cut with the National Football League, National Hockey League and the governing bodies of other organized sports leagues--mainly because, according to Douglass, the company offered a new outlet for selling this type of merchandise.
Douglass is off to a running start, busily hunting avenues to grow OfficialStuff's product line. He's selling program subscription packages--a six-month, six-program subscription costs $69.95 and includes events such as the Kentucky Derby and golf's Masters championship--and is also mounting a "Raiders of the Lost Archives" tool where visitors can post memorabilia they want and OfficialStuff will attempt to fill the order.
"Our aim is to be the Amazon.com of sports programs, whether it's for the Tour de France, the World Cup or the World Series," says Douglass. "[An estimated] 65 million people watch an event like the Super Bowl. If we can sell to just 1 percent of them, that's nearly $1 million in sales. That's why I'm so optimistic about this business. Look around the Web, and there are still businesses people aren't doing--and OfficialStuff.com is one of them."