Earlier this morning, the D.C. United Team Store twitter dropped this bit of information:
(1/2) Sorry to announce that we will be shutting down our online store at the end of the coming week.— DCU Team Store (@dcuteamstore) February 22, 2015
(2/2) Stay tuned to this space for the latest arrivals and special deals from our physical store located at RFK— DCU Team Store (@dcuteamstore) February 22, 2015
Seeing this news was curious and, considering the barebones administrative support that DC already has, perhaps this was a sign that keeping an online store up and running was not financially viable or other unfortunate news.
When asked for a reason for the closure, the response we received was:
@reefa_k as a league MLS has contracted a 3rd party to run a centralized site and also micro sites for all clubs— DCU Team Store (@dcuteamstore) February 22, 2015
This is a bit discouraging, and for a league who claims to be swimming in pauperism during CBA talks, why they would a) spend money for a process like this for products that may not have as much decent product to sell and b) likely passing the expense of a contractor onto the consumer in the form of product markups, for lack of a better reaction, it sucks. If going from the last time Major League Soccer used a contractor is any indication of what the online retail experience will be, it will not be pleasant, customer-oriented or as remotely flexible.
So what's left to do? Well, for the folks that are local, if you see something that strikes your fancy, buy it at the stadium, commiserate with your merch director (D.C. United's is Nathan Fry), and give them applause for running the online shop with the few means they had at their disposal.
And of course, buying the merchandise that your local supporter's group puts the work in to design and sell also, such as:
— District Ultras (@DistrictUltrasX) February 22, 2015
UPDATE: It appears that the store will be converting to one that the shop Fanatics owns and operates, similar to those run in Seattle and in Orlando, among others (h/t to @richransom21 on the latter).