Local businesses feeling impact of Saints season

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 24, 2010

NATCHEZ — Saints-mania is just good business in the Miss-Lou.

With the New Orleans Saints just one win away from the Super Bowl, local merchants are in ordering overdrive to keep up with the product demand.

T-shirts, car flags, house flags and tailgating accessories have been hot items at Hometown Sports in Vidalia and owner Susan Myers said they all have one thing in common — black and gold.

“Long time fans and the new fans, they have all been in here getting things for the game,” Myers said.

The Saints take on the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game at 5:40 p.m. today on Fox.

Myers said her store typically carries a variety of fan gear for teams including the Saints, but she said the demand has been so much recently, she has increased her ordering frequency.

“We normally have items in the store, but I’ve had to bring more in,” she said. “I’ve been ordering much more often.”

And she hopes she doesn’t have to stop.

“I’m hoping they pull it out and we can have two more weeks of this,” she said. “I want to see them in the Super Bow for sure.”

And once folks are decked out in their black and gold, it is time to get ready for game time. Vidalia Market Manager Robert Parker said he has seen a notable increase in snack food sales, party platter sales and drink sales in the past few weeks.

“Fans always stock up before the games,” he said. “But this time, this year, everybody is excited.”

Parker said people in the store are preparing early for the game because no one wants to miss a minute of what has been a magical season for the Saints and their nation of fans.

“Everyone is excited because they have never been this close before,” Parker said. “There is nobody in this store that is not a Saints fan. I guarantee that.”

Cindy Harper, owner of Outdoor Galore gift shop in Ferriday said the Saints season has given people in the area something the rally behind and get excited about.

Since opening her store in 2007, Harper has always carried a wide variety of Saints paraphernalia. The only difference this year is how fast it is selling.

“Just about anything I can get with the Saints logo, I’ll stock,” she said. “I try to stock a variety because people are buying it all.”

The Who Dat hoopla is so much in the Miss-Lou that Bowie’s Tavern is opening its doors for Sunday’s game. Bowie’s is typically closed on Sundays, but will open at 1:30 p.m. for the AFC championship game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets.

Malan Parks, manager at Bowie’s Tavern, said with the excitement around the Saints, opening for the game was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“For other big games we’ve had crowds, people come dressed in all their gear and really get into it,” Parks said. “I think that will be the case for this week, too.”

Harper said the Saints are one of the few teams almost everyone in the Miss-Lou gets behind and with a 14-3 record and a potential Super Bowl berth on the line Sunday that is more than true this year.

“It’s an exciting time for our area, but the entire state (of Louisiana) is behind the Saints,” she said. “For so long, when you’d say ‘Saints,’ people would say ‘ugh,’ but not anymore.”