Entrepreneurship: How Campeón Soccer Bets on the U.S. Soccer Fan

What: Javier Marin trusted his entrepreneurial spirit, and decided to launch his own soccer merchandise store in Chelsea, Massachusetts. A second store was opened at Boston’s airport and more is to come.
Why it matters: As Portada beefs up its content offering on entrepreneurship and innovation,  Javier Marin epitomizes our effort. Marin is an American-Venezuelan entrepreneur that has excelled by providing innovative solutions in sports and media. Soccer is becoming a beloved sport in the U.S., not only for the Hispanic market, but also for U.S. Americans. Thanks to his work, Marin has become Boston Logan International Airport’s first Latino business owner.

Javier Marin, founder and owner of Campeón Soccer

It all started in 2006, during FIFA’s World Cup, played in Germany. In Latin America, it is a common tradition for soccer fans to buy Panini’s special edition sticker album and collect the season’s stickers to complete every country’s team.

Coming from a Latin background himself, Javier Marin grew up collecting the Italian company’s sticker album, so he was aware of the success that bringing the stickers to Massachusetts could represent.

Also, at that time, Marin had already founded El Planeta, a newspaper dedicated to Boston’s Latino community (El Planeta recently acquired Spanish-language weekly El Tiempo Latino from The Washington Post.) He knew there was a market in the area, very interested in acquiring soccer related goods. This is why he started bringing and distributing Panini stickers all over Massachusetts.

“Sales grew exponentially, from 2006 to 2014, even beyond the Hispanic market, and small stores”, Marin remembers. During Brazil’s World Cup, it was already possible to buy Panini stickers in any CVS store.

Acknowledging the success of the Panini stickers and also the amount of interest to collect soccer-related merchandise, Marin decided to go further and also start selling other World Cup merchandise.

After doing some market research, Marinrealized there weren’t any soccer merchandise stores in the area. Every sales person seemed to only care about NFL, NBA and other sports. The Venezuelan entrepreneur realized he was in front of a huge opportunity.

This is how Campeón Soccer was born, in Chelsea, MA. Marin wanted to be ready for the 2014 World Cup in South Africa. “First I wanted to focus the goods specifically to Hispanic and Brazilian soccer, which is very strong here,” Marin remembers. But soon he realized the interest of buying soccer related products was much bigger.

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People desired to get jerseys, scarfs and bottles also from famous European teams such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Arsenal. Another surprise was that customers weren’t only Latinos anymore, but young U.S. Americans were also starting to enjoy soccer, as much as any other national sport.

The shop soon became a success, and Marin is looking for new options to keep growing. Just this last October, he opened Campeón Soccer at the Boston Logan International Airport, becoming the first Latino to own a shop on Terminal B.

But economic success isn’t all what this businessman is after. Marin likes to call himself a social entrepreneur, because with his business he is also making an effort to help the Latin community surrounding him.

With this in mind, Campeón Soccer focuses on hiring Hispanic employees, who are also passionate about soccer, so they are not only salesmen but also committed advisers. “You don’t want a parent bringing the wrong team’s shirt to their son,” Marin says.

Apart from the established stores, Campeón Soccer is also available, as pop-up store during special tournaments, like  the 2016 Copa America. You could find the store in malls in Chicago, Seattle, and South Shore.

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Now, Marin’s bet is on opening stores inside Airports. At the moment he is already planning on launching his third store, at the JFK Jet Blue terminal.

As he puts it, this is just the start, both for Campeón Soccer, and for soccer itself.