On Sundays during football season, a group of Woodberry neighbors 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 battle the Houston Texans in the AFC divisional playoffs, the 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.
The $5 mustaches, marketed as "the original Fanstaches" on the website fanstache.com., also can be found by searching on facebook.com for Fanstache. at http://www.facebook.com/Fanstache?sk=photos#!/Fanstache?sk=info — They 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 Fanstasche'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, 13-year-old Zoe Spadaro, has modeled the Fanstache in several interviews.
Effective business model
Gathering at the Griffin house on an off Sunday for the Ravens, the neighbors appeared peaked but excited by 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.
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 Manchus, too.
"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 Nov. 25.
That gave the group something to 'chu' on.
"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 "chus," 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 Fanstasche. 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."
'Wear at your own risk'