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Fashion forward: Even Mariners’ Michelangelo of merchandise loses track of all the caps

Textured and metallic-brimmed caps are hot sellers at the Mariners team store. (Josh Kerns/KIRO Radio)
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Walk into the Seattle Mariners team store and you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the amount of stuff — especially the massive wall of caps in every color, shape and style.

How many are there? Not even the Mariners’ Michelangelo of merchandise can answer that.

“I can’t even tell you how many styles I have,” said Julie McGillivray, the Mariners director of merchandise.

She’s the one who ultimately decides everything sold in the Mariners team stores. From caps to T-shirts, it’s constantly changing.

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“Every time you come in here you will hopefully find something new you haven’t seen before,” McGillivray said.

When it comes to caps, fans are crazy. The M’s are among the biggest sellers in the country, even though they haven’t been among the top teams.

“We sold 121,000 caps last year. [Over] 90,000 were just men’s alone. The rest were women, child, and infant,” she said.

And it’s not just the three official styles worn by the players on the field.

Ever since she came to the Mariners from the Bon Marche (kids, ask your parents about Macy’s predecessor) back in the late 90’s, Julie’s been pushing fashion forward.

“Everything was just the basics. Whatever was worn on the field was it. I brought in a lot of women’s apparel … I was the second team to bring in a pink cap. So we put a pink cap on the floor and everyone thought I was a little crazy and it was a best-seller right away and it took off from there,” she said.

Did it ever. You can credit Julie and her team with integrating the latest fashions, from fleece to flannel. Her goal was to make M’s wear look great, and constantly create fashion-forward offerings for hardcore and casual fans alike.

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Julie and her buyers travel the country, working with the various official suppliers to find the hottest styles and offerings — often customizing them for the unique tastes of the Northwest. And she’s always trying to keep track of the trends, often pulling on her college-aged kids for advice and inspiration.

“I like to have as much as I can here you can’t find anywhere else. Our player tees are the only player tees with a sleeve patch, for instance. We put an exclusive tee shirt on the floor every year that is our own design, that you can only find here at the Mariners team store,” she said.

But despite all the metallic rimmed hats, Seattle skyline sweatshirts and other unique merchandise Julie’s developed, the biggest sellers these days continue to be authentic jerseys.

The most popular are what you’d expect: Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager. But Julie also has to figure out which rising stars to carry, because the manufacturers have a minimum for personalized jerseys, so it’s not feasible to order every guy.

I just ordered Martin T-shirts and jerseys, they’re not here yet. Marte is here. He even sold when he was on the DL and he’s back now. Dae Ho Lee is the most exciting, fun one to buy right now. I brought in his little test of 144 and had 35 left at the end of the homestand, so I had to go back to the well right away and reorder him,” she said.

Unfortunately, the unpredictability of baseball impacts her as well.

“If they get here or they get traded, then it’s over. And then I have to mark them down, mark them in half, hopefully, sell them as fast as I can at the markdown price and move on,” she laughed.”

Suffice it to say you can get Montero, Ackley, and Rodney Jerseys for a low, low price on the clearance rack.

But overall, just look around the ballpark or anywhere around town and you can see Julie always has her finger as well as her eyes on the pulse of fashion.

“It’s hard for me to watch the game sometimes. I spend the whole time looking at the crowd and seeing where my product is and who bought what and how it looks and how it fits,” she said.

But it’s even more gratifying to see people wearing their Mariners stuff away from Safeco Field.

“In the mall, or at the movie theater or out to dinner, that’s even better,” Julie said.

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