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Super Bowl is 'almost' like Christmas for Ravens retailers

Mary Steneman, left, and Stephanie Murphy shop for Ravens apparel at Sports Nut in Eldersburg Thursday.
Mary Steneman, left, and Stephanie Murphy shop for Ravens apparel at Sports Nut in Eldersburg Thursday. (DAVE MUNCH/STAFF PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

One week from the Super Bowl it seems as though nearly every shop from grocery stores to sports apparel stores are stocking up on Ravens gear.

Martin's, a grocery store in Eldersburg, has T-shirts and hats, said Denny Betson, a manager. As soon as the Ravens won the division, more shirts were delivered for the occasion, Betson said.

He said when the Ravens are winning, people tend to spend a little bit more money on food and miscellaneous Ravens gear.

Sports stores that would typically be bearing down for a slow couple of months following Christmas are exploding with business, said Rick Drozinski, the owner of the Sports Wonk in Manchester.

"Right now because of the playoffs, there's a nice bump. It's getting pretty close to comparing with Christmas," Drozinski said.

Drozinski sold out of Ravens jerseys around Christmastime, and has some youth jerseys left. Sports Wonk has been open for three years and is in its first year in Manchester, just bordering the Pennsylvania state line. He sells anything from Ravens coffee tables to bedspreads and children's footie pajamas.

This year, he's seen a rise in party element supplies like purple hairspray and wigs, Drozinski said.

Andrea Freedman, the owner of the Sports Nut in Eldersburg, said she sold out of Ravens balloons at her store because of parties around the area, and had to order more for the Super Bowl.

Between the two teams, the Super Bowl is big business for retailers. A survey by the National Retail Federation estimates 7.5 million households will buy decorations for their favorite team. Because of the popularity of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, 17 million fans will buy apparel or accessories to support their respective teams, which is up nearly 2.3 million from last year's Super Bowl, according to the survey.

Mary Allen and Mona Babik, volunteers at the gift shop at the Carroll Hospital Center, said within the last three days or so, business has easily been four times more than it usually would be. The Carroll Hospital Center has a section devoted to the Ravens, with everything from Ray Lewis masks to a purple Ravens Connect Four game. There are T-shirts, flip-flops and trashcans which sit against a wall in a store that sees more patients and families than it does customers.

During Christmas and now during Ravens season, Allen said they see people who come solely into the gift shop. The two volunteers granted the success of the shop to their director Mary Richards, who placed two big orders for Ravens gear since the playoffs.

Because of the Ravens, the shop has become more of a destination gift shop recently, meaning more people stop in instead of simply associates and patients of the hospital, Richards said.

"This [business] has been unprecedented in the last week," she said.

Local stores have had a difficult time ordering supplies after Christmas, said store owners Freedman, Drozinski, and the owners of The Maryland Store, Patty and Jeff Brydner.

"We got a lot before Christmas, we sold out of a lot. And like a lot of other stores probably found out, supplies are short," Jeff said.

The Maryland Store has a section devoted to the Ravens year-round, said Patty. The store caters to the needs of Ravens fans who are women, Patty said. This year, popular items have been The Maryland Store's homemade purple Ravens candle and useful items like coffee mugs.

They also sell purple and black flamingos for the yard, which Patty said they sold out of in four hours at the Carroll County Wine Festival. Jeff said there has been an uptick in people coming to buy Maryland-oriented party food and snacks as well, like crab salsa.

"We have a girl that makes confetti that's shaped like crabs that's purple," Patty said, showing a packet of black, silver and purple confetti. "'Ravenfetti' she calls it. She can't make it fast enough."

According to the survey from the national Retail Federation, 39.4 million people plan to throw a Super Bowl party and 59.9 million plan to attend a party this year. For small-business retailers, the extra team spirit is a welcome change to the usual lull following Christmas.

"This past couple weeks with the playoffs, we've definitely seen an increase in traffic. It's just surprising, but it's been great," Patty said.

Drozinski is preparing for what happens when the Ravens win the Super Bowl, he said. He pre-ordered Super Bowl shirts on an "if-win basis," he said. T-shirt companies have the designs set, and start printing shirts as soon as the game is over, he said. Oftentimes companies will contract local printers to get the shirts out in a timely manner, he said.

"It's good for business, good for Maryland," Drozinski said.

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