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Phoenix teams a tough sell for sports memorabilia store

PHOENIX — The Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Suns are having a losing season. The NHL lockout is keeping the Phoenix Coyotes off the ice, and the Arizona Diamondbacks are coming off a .500 season.

Valley sports teams are having a tough time, and so are sports memorabilia stores that are trying to sell their stock.

The cash register is ringing at the Free Agent Sports Store in Paradise Valley Mall. Memorabilia from the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers are hot sellers, but owner Jeff Thalblum said items of the local teams are “collecting dust right now.”

Thalblum said sales of local teams’ goods are off 65 percent this holiday season. It didn’t start out that way.

When the Cardinals started the season 4-0, their merchandise was flying off of the shelves. Since then, they’ve only sold one Beanie Wells autographed picture. The other teams aren’t doing any better.

“The Diamondbacks sold a few things with their 81-81 record,” said Thalblum. “Nobody is buying anything involving the Phoenix Coyotes, and fans can’t even name anyone who plays for the Phoenix Suns.”

About the only thing that’s getting any reaction from customers is an autographed picture of Steve Nash in a Suns uniform that’s in the front window.

“People look at it, and I’ve actually seen some people cry,” Thalblum said. “I’ve actually seen a few tears. People are like ‘If we only had him, could things be just a little bit different?’ ”

Nash signed with the Los Angeles Lakers during the offseason.

Thalblum is trying to keep a positive outlook. He said his sales will improve, just as soon as Valley sports teams do.


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