A blizzard of excited Jets fans is expected to fill downtown Winnipeg Wednesday as the team takes on Minnesota, and at least some of them will be sporting new white duds from local clothing companies who are seizing on the whiteout excitement.
“They make some good Winnipeg gear, representing Winnipeg,” Jason Wishnowski said after buying a new all-white jersey from local clothing company The Peg.
The Peg, Icetime Sports and YWG 204 clothing have all either shipped in or sewn together an array of new white clothing items to help Winnipeggers get in the playoff spirit.
The Jets take on the Wild at Bell MTS Centre for Game 1 of the first round Wednesday night. The Whiteout Street Party begins at 4:30 p.m. on Donald Street, where fans will munch on food truck offerings and watch the game on big outdoor screens.
Stephen Dubienski, owner of The Peg, says the company wanted to give Jets fans something special to help them blend in and stand out in the whiteout crowd.
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The Peg first announced it would be selling its “white on white on white” jersey last week.
“I think this city rallies around their sport team any chance they get, so I think the buzz in the air and everyone is ready to go for sure,” he said.
“I think it’s great for our city to really have something to rally behind: you see the passion, you see everyone’s morale lifted when they’re in the playoffs compared to years that they haven’t been in.”
As is spelled out right in the name, The Peg was founded about five years ago as a way of celebrating Winnipeg and its people through clothing. Dubienski says Winnipeggers are a proud bunch, and their recent spike in sales is evidence of that. As of Tuesday, about 70 per cent of the playoff edition The Peg jerseys had sold out, Dubienski said.
“Whether you’re in Winnipeg or any city in Canada or any city in the world, you can wear The Peg authentic and feel proud that you’re representing the city well,” he said.
Like The Peg, YWG 204 clothing was paying homage to the city long before a Jets playoff run was in sight. And as is the case with The Peg, YWG 204 co-owner Emerson Brewster says his clothing company has seen a recent surge in sales.
A Provencher Bridge logo styled after the Golden State Warriors NBA basketball team logo continues to be a popular item, but it’s YWG204’s new white tuques, shirts, sweaters and hats that are really flying off the shelves.
They decided to get started on the white line of gear more or less immediately after the Jets clinched a playoff spot, he said.
“I hope that this just keeps going, that people keep coming and it just gets bigger,” he said. “I’m just happy that people love it as much as I love it. It’s nice to see people wearing something that you created.”
Brewster is optimistic the team will win it all. Icetime Sports owner Michael Wynne is, too, although he knows it won’t be easy.
“It’s a tough one. I want them to go as far as they can. First round is going to be tough against Minnesota, and if we get past Minnesota I think it’ll be even tougher against the second-round matchup, which everyone is predicting is going to be Nashville,” he said. “If we can get past Minnesota and Nashville I think we can maybe have a little celebration on Portage and Main with Lord Stanley.”
Wynne is a long-time Jets fan and as hyped up as most Winnipeggers. He says the prospect of winning the Cup is something Winnipeggers have dreamed about forever, and the enthusiasm with which people are shelling out for Jets jerseys and white clothing suggests they are really ready for those dreams to become a reality.
“Actually before [the new white clothing] showed up we had probably a presale of about 200 shirts sold before they even came in the door, so yeah, we’re just keeping up with the demand,” he said.
As for Wishnowski, he has a new white The Peg jersey to wear these playoffs; it was the last medium in stock at the store. He already owns a Jets jersey, but there was one problem: it isn’t white.
“Just got to go with the whiteout — it’s a Winnipeg Jets tradition,” he said. “It’s about time.”