The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, the baseball team representing the Island in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL), will open a retail store on Water Street in Vineyard Haven this May. Nelson Giannakopoulos, Sharks director of business operations, said he hopes the location, directly across from the SSA terminal and busy VTA bus stop, will raise awareness, and funds, for the team. “The Sharks are going into our fifth season now, and we still find tourists and even residents don’t know about the team,” he told The Times. “With the proximity to the Steamship and to the bus stop, everyone who goes from the bus or the ferry to Main Street will see our store.”
Mr. Giannakopoulos said the store is part of a business plan to boost the income needed to maintain the stadium — the Shark Tank — and to pay for the team’s hefty travel budget. The Sharks have 27 away games in the 2015 season. “We play 28 home games a year, not including playoffs, which means only 28 days to make money with merchandise,” he said. “We’re primarily kept afloat by generous investors, but we hope the store will help us toward our goal of being self-sustaining.”
In addition to Sharks T-shirts and hats, the store will have an expanding line of Sharks merchandise, including beach towels and flip-flops. Sharks players will be given the opportunity to work in the store, which will stay open until Columbus Day.
Mr. Giannakopoulos, a designer at Hutker Architects in Vineyard Haven, has worked for the Sharks since the team’s inception on a volunteer basis. He donated his skills to design the garages and the grandstands at the Shark Tank, and in his duties as director of business operations, is working on a master plan to spur future growth. “It’s become a second full-time job, but I love baseball and I really want to see it succeed on the Island,” he said.