Super Bowl trip makes Rams wear a hit again

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Owners of area sports stores report that Southeast Missouri football fans are as eager to purchase Rams' memorabilia as they were two years ago when their favorite team won the Super Bowl.

Now that the Rams are back after winning the NFC championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles, blue-and-gold clothes are among the hottest on racks.

"As soon as the game was over Sunday, people were calling and wanting to buy championship stuff," said Jeff Biester, manager at Champs sporting goods store.

Tuesday, he was busily unloading boxes of Rams sweatshirts and other merchandise.

Clearly, a sliding economy hasn't kept wallets closed when it comes to Rams gear.

At Howard's Athletic Goods Tuesday, there were no Rams' football jerseys to be found and only one hooded sweatshirt left on the rack.

Mike Blattel, manager at The Finish Line, another athletic wear store, said the better the Rams perform on the field, the better the team's merchandise sells.

"When they won the division, it didn't do much," he said. But when they won Sunday, business spiked upward, he said.

Stores closer to St. Louis are "doing outrageous business," he said.

Area fans are also eager to purchase anything with the familiar blue-and-gold insignia, particularly if it sports No. 13, worn by quarterback Kurt Warner.

At Factory Card Outlet, business was brisk as people prepared for Super Bowl parties.

"We're selling a lot of balloons and other things," said Mindy Jenkins, a store manager.

Among those are blue-and-gold napkins, plates and party favors.

New this year are football-jersey shaped helium balloons with No. 13 imprinted on them, as well as Super Bowl XXXVI balloons.

Randy Werner is throwing a party Sunday for about 40 to 50 friends. He was in the Factory Card Outlet shopping for decorations.

A big Rams fan, Werner joked that he's thought about changing one letter in his last name to match that of his favorite quarterback.

He said the Super Bowl is good enough cause for fun.

"The economy may have taken a hit, but every once in a while you've got to have a reason to celebrate," Werner said.

Bill Foster, manager at Broadway Sports Cards and Collectibles, said it's too early to tell if the Super Bowl will have an effect on sales of his Rams specialty items.

Warner-related items were the hottest item last time and he expects similar results this year, he said.

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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