Fanstaches support the Ravens

Zoe Spadaro, 13, of Wooodberry, sports a Fanstache as a sign of support for the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco, whose facial hair wasn't purple. A group of neighbors in Woodberry, including Spadaro's parents, Jason and Marcy Daly, marketed the fake mustaches online and promised to make a donation to one of Flacco's favorite charities. On Friday they made good on their promise, presenting Living Classrooms with a check for $10,742 at the foundation's Fells Point campus, about 20 percent of their earnings. (Photo by Karen Jackson / January 8, 2012)

Every Sunday during football season, five neighbors in Woodberry gather at Josh and Valerie Griffin's house to watch their beloved Baltimore Ravens on television.

Lately, the neighbors — Nick Schauman, the Griffins and Jason and Marcy Daly — have been buzzing about quarterback Joe Flacco's new Fu Manchu mustache.

And now, as the Ravens prepare to do battle in the playoffs, the five diehard fans are not only friends and neighbors, but business partners, too. They've started their own online enterprise, making and selling "Fanstaches," fake, Fu Manchu-style mustaches made of purple felt with adhesive backing.


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The $5 mustaches — marketed as "the original Fanstaches" on the website http://fanstache.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Fanstache?sk=info — are also sold at area stores and restaurants, including Poor Boy's Garden & Hearth, a Ravens-obsessed garden and home center with locations in Dundalk and Parkville.

Other participating retailers are The Dugout Zone in Ellicott City, the Ravens Zone in Towson, Wells Liquors in Cedarcroft, Rocket To Venus, a restaurant in Hampden, the Blue Moon Café in Fells Point, Home Gamers in Westminster, and Pit and Pub in Ocean City, where a digital sign announces, "Fanstaches available here."

A dollar of each sale is donated to one of Flacco's causes, Living Classrooms, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that gives youths hands-on education and job training using maritime resources as "living classrooms."

As of Jan. 8, the neighbors had sold about 4,500 Fanstaches, said Marcy Daly, 40, a veterinary saleswoman, and Valerie Griffin, 35, a skin care specialist, who are keeping the Fantasche's financial books.

They sold 3,000 in 10 hours after WBAL-TV reported on the business. The neighbors have also taken turns giving interviews to news outlets ranging from Fox-45 to ESPN Radio. The Dalys' daughter, Zoe Spadaro, 13, has modeled the Fanstache in several interviews.

Gathering at the Griffin house on an off Sunday for the Ravens, the neighbors appeared peaked but excited at their early success.

"It's been a wild ride," said Schauman, 39, a freelance photographer.

"It all kind of came together," marveled Josh Griffin, 34, a tattoo artist.

Effective business model

The mustache idea grew out of a general consensus that they liked Flacco's Fu Manchu and were impressed that he'd called on his teammates to shave their beards into Fu Manchu mustaches.

"A lot of great teams, they always have their signature thing that they go through a season with, and we're just trying to create one," Flacco told the Sun on Nov. 25.

"We thought we'd do it just for fun, and how nice it would be if the entire city did it too," Schauman said. He and Josh Griffin, who were already bearded, began sporting"chu's," and the clean-shaven Jason Daly, 38, owner of a landscaping and home repair business, began to grow and shape his own mustache.

"He's got it going now," Josh Griffin said.

The same can be said of the Fantasche. In a few short weeks, they've pooled $4,000 to $5,000 of their own money and put together an efficient business model. They began by buying sheets of felt from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores in the area.

"We've been to all of them," Schauman said. "Now we're dealing directly with the warehouse."

By the end of last week, they'd bought 150 yards of purple felt, enough to make about 40,000 Fanstaches.