When sports store owner Bruce Mianecki ordered his top-of-the-line $250 San Francisco 49ers jerseys for the 2012 NFL season, picking the players for those high-priced logo gear were no-brainers - 49ers stars Frank Gore, a running back, and Patrick Willis, a linebacker.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick? Are you kidding? When Mianecki ordered his 2012 NFL jerseys in December 2011, Kaepernick was finishing a rookie season during which he threw a grand total of five passes. In late 2011, NFL fans probably didn't know Colin Kaepernick from Colin Powell.
My, how the NFL retail jersey world has changed in just two months.
These days, Kaepernick's 49ers jersey with the number 7 on the front and back is a red-hot seller and Mianecki can't wait for 144 new Kaepernick jerseys adorned with a new Super Bowl logo to show up Friday at his sports jersey store called Uniform Sports at the Las Vegas Premium Outlets South.
In addition to re-ordering the Kaepernick replica jerseys, Mianecki also ordered 24 Kaepernick T-shirts with his name and number on the back and another 24 Kaepernick specialty T-shirts that display Kaepernick showing his now-popular touchdown pose where he flexes his arm and kisses his bicep. The T-shirt with the Kaepernick name and number will retail for $32, while the one with the touchdown bicep kiss pose will go for $28 a pop.
Then, there's the Kaepernick bobblehead. Mianecki ordered 24 and will sell them for $25 each when they arrive in April. And the retail shop owner even ordered a bunch of 49ers pennants showing Kaepernick's smiling face. Those will sell for $8 each.
Fanatics.com, one of the nation's top online sports merchandise retailers, reported Tuesday that the Kaepernick jersey is the top seller on its website for the past seven days and No. 2 for January behind Ray Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens linebacker. Sales of the Kaepernick jersey increased more than 350 percent during the past seven days on the Web site compared with the sales during the seven days before that.
"His jersey is definitely in high demand," said Meier Raivich, a spokesman for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Fanatics.com. He noted the 49ers are the top-selling team on the website this month, up 281 percent from January 2012.
Cashing in on the Kaepernick craze is not easy for retailers because the 36th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft became all the rage merely weeks ago. This season's top jersey seller at the Uniform Sports store, for example, was Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos.
"It's always hard when one player gets hot and you're trying to chase him," Mianecki said. "This guy has played only eight NFL games and what an eight games he has played." Indeed, "hot" is one way of describing the 6-foot, 4-inch Kaepernick, a University of Nevada, Reno product whose dynamic combination of passing and running has made headlines since being named a starter in November. Kaepernick led the 49ers to post-season wins over the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons the past two weekends, propelling San Francisco into the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
The Kaepernick jersey that is available at Uniform Sports is the lowest tier jersey of the three types of NFL jerseys made available by Nike, the NFL uniform supplier.
The top-level jersey is the "Elite" model, an authentic NFL team jersey selling for $250. The mid-tier jersey is called the "Limited" and has the player's name and number embroidered on the jersey with "Flywire" collar that keeps it from stretching. That ones retails for $135.
Mianecki is selling the lowest-level Kaepernick jersey - dubbed by Nike as the "Game" model - for $100. These replicas are made by Nike at a different location by applying the player's vinyl name and number to a blank 49ers jersey with heat pressure, Mianecki said.
Mianecki sold all 24 of his Kaepernick jerseys before the holiday season last month and has 10 left from a recent shipment.
Contact reporter Alan Snel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273.