Media store bets on fervent soccer fans

The store is not the first soccer-related venture for Domenick Cucinotta (left) and Ebun Olaloye, who already run the Live Breathe Futbol clothing line.
The store is not the first soccer-related venture for Domenick Cucinotta (left) and Ebun Olaloye, who already run the Live Breathe Futbol clothing line. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 29, 2013

MEDIA - A look around the space where Ebun Olaloye and Domenick Cucinotta will celebrate the grand opening of their new retail store Saturday removes any mystery behind the naming of their clothing line: "Live Breathe Futbol."

While they talk about their business, Olaloye, 24, toys with a miniature soccer ball underfoot and Cucinotta, 26, holds a larger one in his hands. Cucinotta puts the AC Milan game on TV, and Olaloye turns to a laptop so he can watch an Arsenal game simultaneously.

Since Olaloye designed their first soccer-themed T-shirt in 2010, the pair's apparel business has taken off. They have expanded from T-shirts to full clothing lines with beanies, caps, jackets, and scarves. They have filmed commercials and promoted their brand aggressively on social media, and early this year, they hired their first employee.

And now, with owner Tom Kennedy, they have their own store - Media Football Club, on State Street in Media.

In short, they live and breathe soccer. And they're betting on their belief that other fans do, too.

The two men, who met playing pickup soccer games at Temple University, market their clothing to people whose love of soccer runs so deep that they want to not only wear jerseys but also show soccer motifs on their more stylish outfits. The kind of people who will wake up early on a Saturday or Sunday to watch English Premier League games on the store's five televisions every weekend at 7:30. The kind of people who will not only shop for cleats and jerseys in the first room of their Delaware County store, but will stay for hours in the second - the room with turf on the ground, four stadium seats, a foosball table, and an Xbox system for games of FIFA 14.

"People who play it also really live it off the field," Olaloye said. He would know - when he lived in Seattle for a time, he woke up at 4:45 a.m. to watch Arsenal. That made perfect sense to Cucinotta: "Of course. What are you going to do, not watch the game?"

Cucinotta, Olaloye, and their store manager, Johnny Dickerson, who moved to Philadelphia from England a year and a half ago, all play soccer in an adult league. They hope that their teammates, as well as the legions of youth players and high school players in the area, will flock to their store rather than standard sporting goods stores.

"Nobody at Modell's can tell you what shin guards a defender should be wearing," Cucinotta said. Kennedy has promised to only hire salespeople who have played soccer themselves.

John Horan, publisher of the newsletter Sporting Goods Intelligence, which is also based in Delaware County, agreed that serious soccer fans would turn to a specialty store for items they cannot find elsewhere. And he pointed out that since the Philadelphia Union, a Major League Soccer team, started playing in 2010, the area has become more of a soccer hub.

"They do pretty well down at the stadium in Chester," Horan said. "Philadelphia's got a very strong soccer community. Like every other major market, there are lots of Hispanics living here now that are more soccer fans than football fans."

Aside from balls, bags and, of course, the LBF apparel on sale, the men hope that Media Football Club will fill another need for the region's soccer fans.

"It's hard for the American soccer fan to watch a game in a bar," Cucinotta said. "You have to kind of beg. If I'm lucky enough to get a game in a bar, you never get sound."

In his own shop, he can turn the volume all the way up.

jzauzmer@phillynews.com610-313-8207 @JulieZauzmer