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Catonsville vendor's sales skyrocket after Ravens win

Baltimore RavensFootballBP PlcRay LewisAFC Championship GameDenver Broncos

The Ravens' recent playoff success, and this weekend's trip to Massachusetts for the AFC Championship game, has business booming for Catonsville resident Susan Hannon, owner of the "Ravens Gear" vendor tent at the BP gas station where Route 40 meets Winters Lane.

Hannon, along with her friend and business partner Marc Smelkinson, has been selling Ravens gear from her custom-made tent for three seasons now and said that this year's winning season has been great for business.

"We can't keep things on the table or the shelves at all," Hannon said Jan. 14.

In addition to the Ravens' 12-6 season, the announcement by linebacker Ray Lewis – arguably Baltimore's most famous player – that he would retire at the end of the season has caused a surge in team support.

"Anything with Ray Lewis on it gets out of here quickly," Smelkinson said.

"It's almost like a feverish frenzy kind of thing," Hannon said.

After the Ravens beat the Denver Broncos in double overtime Saturday in Colorado, Hannon said sales were through the roof over the weekend.

"We basically sold everything out. We had nothing left," Hannon said.

Maurice White, a Baltimore City resident and a return customer who described himself as a "die-hard Ravens fan," said he had to restock on memorabilia after Saturday's win. He also committed to returning later this week for more.

"I want the new shirt y'all got coming out," White said after purchasing two commemorative plaques, a decal, a T-shirt and a car flag from Hannon and Smelkinson.

Hannon places orders to wholesalers days in advance so that new merchandise is on display the minute it becomes available. She already has orders in for Super Bowl hats and t-shirts in case the Ravens win.

"Sometimes, we have the shirts that are printed at like 8:30 in the morning, we have them here by 10:30 at times, and you open the box and they're still warm," Hannon said. "Literally hot off the press."

Hannon was between jobs when she decided to purchase the tent and start selling Ravens memorabilia. She said that after selling some merchandise at local flea markets, the owner of the BP station where she is currently located approached her and asked to move her business into his parking lot.

Smelkinson and Hannon agree their arrangement with the station's owner worked out perfectly.

"It's a win-win situation," Hannon said.

"When the gas customers come in to get gas, as they're waiting for their tank to get filled, they walk over," Smelkinson added. "And vice versa."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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