Major League Baseball Properties has named the Yankees baseball's 2012 "Club Retailer of the Year" for the team's commitment to driving merchandise sales.
The Yankees and Legends Hospitality, led by Legends GM of retail Michael Loparo, earned the recognition based on significant improvements to the Yankee Stadium clubhouse store, as well as consistent product innovation and reinvention, according to a team release.
"We are extremely honored to be recognized by Major League Baseball," Dan Smith, president of Legends Hospitality, said in a statement. "Mike Loparo and his team work with great passion to develop new and original retail offerings that complement the culture and enthusiasm of the Yankees and their fan base. We are fortunate to be able to work closely with the Yankees in developing these innovations and share their unmatched devotion to delivering an unsurpassed customer service experience for their fans each and every time they come to the ballpark."
The award, created in 2005, is given annually based on a combination of sales, vendor/customer feedback and creative marketing and merchandising efforts.
This year, the Yankees placed a New Era embroidery machine in the Great Hall at Yankee Stadium to offer fans a personalized headwear merchandise experience, and the club also completely redesigned the team store. Changes included a restructured floor plan to create a streamlined approach for the consumer and Astroturf in the store to feature the Authentic Collection On-field areas.
The Yankees also worked with MLB to create new graphics for three key locations at the ballpark, bringing an interactive element via merchandise customization. The team also developed a Victoria's Secret PINK line and displayed a Yankees Knievel motorcycle in front of the team store.
"The demand among fans for Yankees merchandise and other licensed products is always strong, given the iconic nature of the team and their brand, but the Yankees deserve special praise for not resting on their laurels and continuing to innovate and provide creative new ways for fans to express their team pride," Howard Smith, senior vice president for licensing for Major League Baseball, said in a statement. "The clubhouse store at Yankee Stadium has evolved considerably just in the four years since the new ballpark opened. Mike Loparo and the Yankees are especially deserving of this honor."
Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.