Business is booming for local retailers selling Cincinnati Bengals merchandise or food-based establishments offering a delicious way to watch them play.
Sports apparel retailer Rally House, which has locations outside Dayton Mall in Miami Twp. and Beavercreek’s Mall at Fairfield Commons and The Greene Town Center, has enjoyed “some pretty nice sales all season from the Bengals,” according to district manager Teri Hauenschild.
“We (started) to see a peak in December and going into the playoffs,” Hauenschild told this news outlet.
T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts and other products emblazoned with “AFC Champions” and “Super Bowl Bound” have been among the items flying off the shelves since the Bengals beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game Jan. 30 to earn a spot in Super Bowl LVI, Cincinnati’s first Super Bowl in 33 years.
“We opened after (that) win and we had an initial shipment of product and we sold out in most of our stores immediately following the game and the excitement has been there ever since,” Hauenschild said.
Rally House offers at least 100 styles of AFC Champs or Super Bowl Bound items, the highest demand of which has been Super Bowl jerseys, Hauenschild said. The chain has 101 stores nationwide.
Sales are expected to be brisk leading up to the Super Bowl and then skyrocket afterward if the Bengals win, she said.
“The biggest thing that we’re feeling is the overall excitement by the fans and that they’re so proud and so excited to be able to own and wear something that really shows that they’ve been a true fan all the way and that they’re so proud of them,” Hauenschild said.
Jim Manley, marketing director for Fricker’s, a sports bar known for its chicken wings, said business has been “terrific” for the chain’s Southwest Ohio locations in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.
“We are shocked and happy and buoyed by the fact that our local team is doing as well as it is,” Manley said. “People are ... beside themselves with good spirit and joy and it’s a pleasure to be around them.”
Fricker’s has 10 area locations, all of which saw sales increase during Bengal playoffs games but nothing like what it’s expecting for Sunday, he said.
“It was more in-house for us and not only that, it was daylight and it was a Saturday (for two of the games),” Manley said.
Carryout orders for parties is what the chain expects for Super Bowl Sunday based upon what it traditionally has seen in prior years. That business is expected to be extremely brisk.
“People don’t order normal orders of tens and twenties, they order five hundreds and thousands,” Manley said. “There certainly is a renewed interest because of the local flavor of the Bengals in it. It’s been tremendous. All of the stores ... have just been buoyed by the sheer number of people who are excited about Cincinnati Bengal football again.”
Ashley’s Pastry Shop in Oakwood has been making available in-bakery and pre-order Bengals-inspired cookies, cupcakes and cakes and business
Owner Theresa Hammons said the 40-year-old shop always makes such handmade items for whatever team is in the Super Bowl, but having the Bengals reach the Super Bowl has more than doubled business to “unprecedented” levels.
“Any time the Bengals are in the playoffs, we always do the cookies,” Hammons said “The last time the Bengal were in the Super Bowl in 1989 we did cookies, but it was just not nearly the hype and the volume and the excitement that it is right now.”
On Jan. 29, the day before the Bengals triumphed over the Kansas City Chiefs, Ashley’s Pastry Shop saw lines outside the door all day long for its cookies, she said.
The expanded offerings of this year at the shop goes beyond Bengals helmet, “Who Dey” and football-shaped cookies to include cookies in the shape of a Bengal Tiger, the state of Ohio, the Bengal “B” and a football field with fans in the stands. There’s also “It Is Us” cookies, Bengals-striped cheesecake and football bread.
“When you open our door, we want you to realize, ‘Wow, I could throw a Super Bowl party by just getting everything right here,” Hammons said.
The shop also is selling the official 300-page, full-color Super Bowl program to customers for $20.
Hammons attributes the massive popularity of Bengals-related items to their drought from the Super Bowl, the way they won each playoff game this year and the drastic shift from the losing records of the past several years to being in the Super Bowl.
“I think everyone’s getting behind them,” she said. “It’s the excitement. It sends a bigger message than just about winning football. To me it sends a message about determination, grit, never giving up, playing hard. I think it’s a great story.”
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