- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 22, 2021

As the boxes and boxes of merchandise kept arriving at Capital One Arena, the scope of the task ahead of Jamal Jones became clear. Jones, the director of retail for Monumental Sports and Entertainment, was amazed at how much was hiding in storage here and there, gathering dust, almost forgotten.

Until now.

Capital One Arena will open its doors to fans on Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for a garage sale, with all proceeds heading to the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation. When fans enter Capital One Arena, they’ll find the concourse almost overflowing with merchandise, including signed basketballs and jerseys to lunch boxes, T-shirts and pucks.

Everything is priced from $1 to $30, with the goal to unload the surplus gear and merchandise from the Mystics, Capitals, Wizards, Capital City Go-Go and Wizards District Gaming. The sheer number of products on hand practically offers something for anyone — so long as that anyone is a D.C. sports fan.

“It just kept coming from various departments that I didn’t know had these things,” Jones said. “And it’s funny, seeing some of the departments had some of the same things and didn’t know it. It’s been pretty crazy to see it all come together.”

The idea was hatched about two months ago when staffers began heading back into the office. When they looked around, “we realized we had a lot of stuff,” said Hunter Lochmann, the chief marketing officer of Monumental Sports and Entertainment.

So an idea was born. Liz Wardlow, a senior manager of marketing for the Washington Capitals, first mentioned the idea, and Lochmann quickly jumped aboard. They spread the word around each of Monumental’s properties, preparing to stage a garage sale.

As opposed to a traditional garage sale, nothing for sale is used — although some merchandise and memorabilia is dated. There’s a framed signed photo from Garrett Temple, who hasn’t played for the Wizards since 2016. Karl Alzner, a defenseman who last featured for the Capitals in 2017, also has a signed photo available.

But those finds could be part of the fun for a passionate Washington fan.

“We had too much in stock, and we’re letting the fans get after it,” Lochmann said. “And that’s the other thing: our fans get to come here. Who knows, the former players they loved following, there’s an item with their image on it.”

There’s a Kirk Hinrich jersey from his time playing for the Wizards in 2010-2011 that caught Lochmann’s eye; Lochmann is a Kansas graduate, where Hinrich played.

“Hinrich is one of my all-time favorite players, so I may have to see if I can pull rank and get in there and buy it before anyone else,” Lochmann joked.

Lochmann predicts one of the most popular items will be the authentic NBA socks, with each pair selling for $1 or six pairs for $5. Mystics jerseys are selling for $10, and a slew of Nike apparel is reasonably priced, too.

Normally, Lochmann said they would donate most of the items, such as clothing or backpacks. Some of the items available, though, sat in storage for so long because “we didn’t know what to do with it,” Lochmann said — leaving ample bobbleheads for sale, for instance.

Once the sale ends Friday night, assuming there’s leftover merchandise, the organization will then find a place to donate what’s left, building on what they already raised for the Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation.

“We know at the end of the day, this was never on the calendar to raise money for the foundation,” Lochmann said. “We know it’s all going to a good cause. So I think it just makes it that much easier. I think the fans can rally around it knowing, if they’re going to plop $20 down on 120 pairs of socks, it’s going to a good cause.”

That makes the two weeks of hard work — first transporting the items from storage, then organizing them into logical groups along the concourse — all worth it.

“Priced so low, we’re able to make a lot of fans happy,” Jones said. “It’s just fun being able to see peoples’ reactions as they come through, they shop. They’re kind of doing us a favor. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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