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Local entrepreneur bets big with airport sportswear store

Karen Morales
Local entrepreneur bets big with airport sportswear store
Attending the Campeón Soccer opening at Logan Airport: (l-r) Roy Avellaneda; Josiane Martinez, Archipelago Strategies Group CEO; Thomas Ambrosino, Chelsea City Manager; Jabes Rojas, Governor Office’s Deputy Chief of Staff; José C. Massó III, Massport Policy Director; Nam Pham, Massachusetts Assistant Secretary of Business Development; Javier Marin, Campeón Soccer owner; Camilo Hernandez, Boston City Council District 1 Director of Constituent Services; and Verónica Robles, VROCC Director.

In recognition of soccer’s fierce worldwide fan base, Logan airport recently opened a new Campeón Soccer location in Terminal B. The store is the first major soccer retailer in a U.S. airport and the first Hispanic-owned business in the terminal.

“I definitely love the soccer community’s passion towards the sport,” said Javier Marin, owner of the store. “The community has been growing and making a big presence in this country.”

On the web

Campeón Soccer: www.campeonsoccer.com/

As founder and co-owner of the El Planeta newspaper, Marin has always had his finger on the pulse of Boston’s Latino community, a population that continues to grow. He began distributing official World Cup merchandise in 2011, and opened the first Campeón Soccer location in Chelsea, Massachusetts two years later.

“Soccer is like a religion in the Latino market,” he said.

After going through Terminal B’s security checkpoint, passengers can shop for soccer paraphernalia of international teams and leagues, as well local soccer club New England Revolution, at the Campeón Soccer kiosk.

Items range from jerseys, phone cases, hats, scarves and figurines for teams like Brasil, USA, Real Madrid, Manchester United or Arsenal.

The airport kiosk sells merchandise mostly for the soccer fans, Marin said. That’s in contrast to his Chelsea flagship, which also offers products for soccer players such as cleats, soccer balls and team uniforms.

Five other sales associates take shifts running the store, all of whom, according to Marin, are soccer experts. “I know that if you buy something of Ronaldo for a kid that loves Messi, they’re going to hate you,” he said. “The person that works here needs to know the community well.”

Value capture

The process of opening the new store began a couple years ago, according to Marin, when Camilo Hernandez, a local political and community organizer, invited various minority-owned business owners to discuss the airport retail space. In partnership with Massport and AIRMALL, Campeón Soccer opened for business on October 14, 2016.

“As the gateway to Boston and beyond, Logan International Airport is the first stop for millions of visitors from around the world,” said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn. “Increasing the number of locally-owned and diverse businesses operating in the airport is a key component to solidifying Logan’s world-class status.”

Marin said he crunched a lot of numbers and compiled research to scale his business into a second location, including looking at statistics and demographics of passengers flying out of Terminal B. In 2015, 4.88 million travelers went outbound through Terminal B, with roughly half of them international passengers.

American Airlines also is located in Terminal B, which many travelers going to South America take — another strong soccer market, Marin said.

“The data convinced me that this was a viable business,” he said.

In addition, the United States is a unique market. As a country of immigrants, American soccer fans tend to watch all of the international leagues, as opposed to a country like Spain, where Spaniards tend to only support Spanish teams. “And during the World Cup, everybody loves to see their own native country playing,” said Marin.

“Every major international airport in Europe has a soccer store but there is a difference,” he said. “If you go to a store in Germany, the store will only have merch from their German team and their German league.”

The store owner has future expansion plans, like additional Campeón Soccer locations in other Logan terminals and other international airports. “It’s an international business model that has worked,” he said.

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