EXCLUSIVE: Bronx businesses celebrating a comeback victory over Nike merch deal

Stan The Man's Baseball Land closed on River Avenue. (File)

8 mom-and-pops say they would have gone under had they been left out of the deal.

Nike has agreed to keep eight small Bronx businesses in the Yankee merchandising game, according to Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson and the 161st Street Business Improvement District.

The agreement comes after the mom-and-pop shops were in jeopardy of losing the rights to sell Yankees memorabilia as part of an arranged deal between Nike and Major League Baseball that would only authorize the selling of licensed apparel at “premium distribution points.”

“Constructive dialogue that was initiated by our local council members and partners in the business improvement district led us to urge Nike and Major League Baseball to work together on a solution that recognized the needs of those who live in the neighborhood surrounding Yankee Stadium,” the bombers public relations department said through a statement on Friday, Nov. 15.

Longtime standing River Avenue Yankee retail spots, Ballpark Sports, D & J Variety, Home Plate, Pinstripe Collectibles, Sammy’s, S & A Sports, Stadium Souvenirs and Stan’s Sports World were all at risk of closing down for good per the exclusive deal, but thanks to the new deal, they’re safe.

“The South Bronx is our home, and we take pride in being a productive member of our community,” the Yankees statement also noted. 

After amNewYork broke this news on Oct. 31, stakeholders stepped up to the plate for the small businesses, starting with the New York Yankees front office bosses themselves.

The Yankees reached out to the 161st Street BID for a list of the endangered stores and even wrote to Nike, expressing the organization’s deep concerns with the deal.

“The magnitude of the problem is extreme,” Yankees COO Lonn Trost wrote to the MLB upon learning those stores would be scratched from the lineup.

Gibson was also instrumental in leveraging a compromise with Nike, sources say.

“Given their longevity, community commitment, and economic vitality, we strongly believe these stores to be in fact, premium distribution locations,” Gibson previously wrote in a letter to Nike, which also noted that the small businesses shell out roughly $1 million in licensed apparel annually.

The city’s department of Small Business Services and 161st Street BID Director Cary Goodman also went to bat for the Bronx’s beloved Yankee memorabilia shops.

While commending the Yankees, Gibson, and Goodman’s efforts, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. also cheered on the victory in his borough. 

“If you want to do business in The Bronx, you have to do business with The Bronx. This agreement helps Nike, Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees do just that,” he said.

 

Alex Mitchell