How Atlanta Retailers Are Cashing in on the Super Bowl

With Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII set for kickoff at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, an estimated 150,000 out-of-towners are headed to Atlanta.

While football fans are focused on the big game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, the Super Bowl has historically led to big spending for the cities that play host. The Metro Atlanta Chamber predicts that the game will reap $400 million in economic rewards for the region.

Tourists will likely be shelling out the most on lodging and food, but Atlanta shoe retailers are hoping to cash in on the commotion surrounding the big game.

Epitome, a fashion-forward streetwear boutique located in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, is planning to celebrate with a big block party on Saturday.

The event will include exclusive merchandise and collaborations with local artists and others, and rapper Trinidad James will host. Epitome is teaming up with Shake Shack and a vodka sponsor for its tailgate-themed party.

“We’re basing it around the old Freaknik event and trying to bring that feeling back,” owner Aric Rosenberg said. “I think the Super Bowl will have a major impact on sales. There’s supposed to be a crazy amount of people. People here are already gearing up. Sales are up.”

Big Peach Running Co., a seven-store running-shoe chain, has seen a bit of increased traffic in its Midtown location, located just two miles from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The retailer holds group runs from its locations around the city and visitors have asked about joining in.

“Over the weekend the [Midtown store] had some visitors from Europe that were in town for the Super Bowl. They are anticipating that it will be busier on Saturday,” said Director of Marketing Dave Martinez.

A Ma Maniere, an upscale sneaker retailer with locations in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., has partnered with Nike for the week leading up to the big game. The store kicked things off on Monday with a “Women Within” panel featuring three female designers: Cristy Montoya , Paula Cuevas and Rochelle Bennet (Sienna Danyele served as moderator).

Tonight, A Ma Maniere (“My Way” in French) is holding a conversation with its founder, James Whitner, and the buzzy designer Heron Preston. The full schedule culminates in a two-part “My Way” exhibit and collection launch on Friday and Saturday.

But not all retailers are banking big on the Super Bowl. With airport delays impacting travelers coming from major cities like New York — and with winter weather leading to canceled flights on Tuesday into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — some are just hoping business stays steady.

“We’re really not doing anything special. We’re just hopeful that there’s business. If the airlines don’t shut down,” said Jeff Steinbook, president of sneaker boutique Walter’s Clothing.

Americans are spending an average of $81.30 on this year’s Super Bowl, according to the National Retail Federation, for a total of $14.8 billion. This is just under last year’s figure of $15.3 billion in bowl-related spending. Of those who plan to tune in, 10 percent plan to purchase apparel and accessories.

“Whether it’s to see who wins, watch the halftime show and commercials or just get together with friends, this is the biggest party since New Year’s Eve,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Spending is expected to be at one of the highest levels we’ve seen. And retailers are ready whether you need food, team jerseys, decorations or a new TV.”

Atlanta retailers that have been in operation since the 1990s already have experience with the Super Bowl coming to town: The city played host for Super Bowl XXVIII in 1994 and Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000.

Additional reporting by Jennie Bell.

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