Fanatics, Inc. is the creation of eCommerce visionary and former chairman and CEO of GSI, Michael Rubin. The result of combining Jacksonville-based Fanatics with GSI’s former online sports merchandise business and Dreams, Inc., has made Fanatics the global leader for officially licensed sports merchandise. In 2016, the company took another big step forward by acquiring Kitbag, a UK-based international online retailer, to accelerate both its global expansion plans and aggressive pursuit of growing the licensed sports merchandise business in football (soccer) around the world.
When it was announced in 1995 that the Jaguars would plant roots in Jacksonville, Alan and Mitch Trager got together and opened Fanatics, a brick-and-mortar storefront in a Jacksonville mall. Over the years, Fanatics sold a slew of team gear, but along the way the Tragers uncovered a much bigger opportunity — a market of displaced fans around the world who wanted merchandise to support their favorite teams. Fanatics went digital and made its first online sale in 1997.
At about the same time, Rubin started GSI just outside of Philadelphia. GSI quickly became a leading e-commerce, technology and fulfillment company, powering the online stores of all the major sports leagues. In 2011, GSI bought Fanatics and then Rubin sold the company to eBay, but held on to relationships with the leagues and Fanatics. The following year, Fanatics acquired Dreams, Inc., which included sports e-retailer FansEdge.
In 2014, Fanatics named eCommerce innovator and Silicon Valley veteran Doug Mack as CEO, replacing retiring founder Alan Trager. Mack has transformed Fanatics from an online retailer into a mobile-first, multi-channel company by putting more of an emphasis on data and technology.
For nearly 20 years, the name Fanatics has been a distinguished brand in the licensed sports merchandise industry. What began as a single Jacksonville mall retail store has grown into the largest retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise, providing the ultimate shopping experience to sports fans worldwide.
Although large in size, Fanatics has never forgotten its humble roots and remains focused on helping fuel the passion that every fan has for the teams, schools and players they love.