SEA Games: Booming business for Malaysian merchandise sellers

·Reporter
Retailers selling sports-related merchandise outside the Shah Alam Stadium, one of the venues for the SEA Games 2017. (PHOTO: Nigel Chin / Yahoo News Singapore)
Retailers selling sports-related merchandise outside the Shah Alam Stadium, one of the venues for the SEA Games 2017. (PHOTO: Nigel Chin / Yahoo News Singapore)

Followers of Malaysian football will find them a familiar sight – stalls set up outside stadiums selling football jerseys, scarfs, hats and other sports-related merchandise.

While not all of the items sold are officially licensed, according to some stall owners, this has not stopped them from racking up strong sales over the course of the SEA Games 2017 football matches thus far.

Prior to the start of the Group A match between Singapore and Malaysia on Wednesday (16 August), Yahoo News Singapore observed about 22 stalls set up outside Shah Alam Stadium in Selangor.

Malaysia jerseys were being sold at about RM20-RM30 (S$6.30 – S$9.50) each, with scarves going for as low as RM10 each. There were SEA Games t-shirts on sale as well, but at the higher price at RM50 a piece.

Malaysian football team merchandise on sale at a stall outside Shah Alam Stadium. (PHOTO: Nigel Chin / Yahoo News Singapore)
Malaysian football team merchandise on sale at a stall outside Shah Alam Stadium. (PHOTO: Nigel Chin / Yahoo News Singapore)

One stall owner, who wanted to be known only as Jai, told Yahoo News Singapore that sales have been brisk for this SEA Games period, and he had made “a few thousand” ringgit on Monday, when the football competition started.

“I set up my shop from about 8am until about 11pm. So far, there has been more business than usual. If Malaysia makes it to the semi-finals, I’m sure my stocks will sell out,” said the 42-year-old, who has been in the business for 10 years.

Another stall owner, 26-year-old Azam, revealed that he had travelled all the way from Johor Bahru to just set up a stall and capitalise on the SEA Games crowd.

“If there are a lot of people, perhaps I can sell upwards of 30 jerseys. But of course, there are a lot of shops selling the same thing so it really depends,” he said.

A third stall owner revealed that permits, which cost about RM100 each, have to be obtained from the respective stadiums at least a week in advance in order for retailers to set up.

“There are two spots you can apply for, at the front of the stadium and at the back of the stadium,” Muhammad Syahrul, 32, said.

“Once the permit is approved, the stadium will then decide where the stalls will be placed. So far, business has been good, especially on the first day. We’ve applied to set up our stall for two weeks.”

Jai explained that the merchandise stocks come from different suppliers, with each stall taking in a few hundred items each.

The stall owners will then gather for a meeting to standardise the prices across all the stalls.

Part of the culture

These merchandise stalls – along with the unlicensed wares – have been around for so long that they have become part of Malaysia’s sports culture.

At the official merchandise booth, which opened later than the other stalls, SEA Games t-shirts were available at RM49.90 toRM89.90 each – prices which stood in stark contrast to the cheaper options on sale a few hundred metres away.

The staff member manning the official booth, 31-year-old Shafiq Akhzan, expressed surprise when told of the unlicensed SEA Games merchandise being sold at the other stalls.

“I didn’t know about it, but what to do? I cannot do anything… only the organisers can do something,” he said. “It is a culture here in Malaysia.”

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