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NFL lockout: big blow to small firms

NFL lockout could mean millions of dollars of lost sales. Restaurants, team apparel stores could see the biggest impact of an NFL lockout.

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As a former general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, Susan Spencer saw firsthand how destructive an NFL work stoppage can be for the businesses located in and around NFL stadiums when players went on strike for 57 days in 1982.

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Spencer estimates that 10 percent of the small businesses around Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia closed their doors during or after that strike, which canceled seven games of the 16-game season.

“It had wide ramifications,” Spencer told BusinessNewsDaily. “A lot of little businesses went out of business because they just could not sustain themselves.”

Located just steps from Qwest Field in Seattle, the Seahawks Den – which sells Seahawks jerseys, T-shirts, hats and other team paraphernalia – is poised for significant losses if there are no NFL games next year.

Kevin McCluskey, manager of the Seahawks Den in Pioneer Square, said with only eight regular season home games a year, each game becomes a large event that imports fans from all over the country.

“The consequences for us would be devastating,” McCluskey said. “We only open on Sundays during the football season, so without those games we would lose a major chunk of our business.”

Having been through similar collective bargaining negotiations in the past, Spencer (who currently is a small business consultant, lecturer and business blogger) said she doubts owners and players are thinking of anyone but themselves, which is why her advice to small businesses that rely on the NFL is to be proactive in the months before the next season starts.

Spencer encourages small businesses owners to start preparing now for a potential lockout by looking for new streams of revenue to offset the losses that would come with no Sunday games.

As NFL owners and players try to hammer out a new deal, McCluskey said he hopes they all recognize what is riding on their ability to resolve their differences in a timely manner.

“They need to look at the bigger picture and realize just how many jobs are at stake, and not just their own,” McCluskey said.