Chilly in the D at game time, but business is hot
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Sports Mania merchandise manager Shannon Eagan said sales are expected to eclipse last October's $120,000 by the end of this month.
Photo: Ryan Kelly
Greektown sports apparel shop Sports Mania has already doubled sales over a usual October. Cheli's Chili expected to serve 5,000 people before, during and after Saturday's game. Even peanut vendor Colie Wheeler said he expects to make a lot more than peanuts by the time World Series weekend is over.
From parking lots to restaurants to street vendors, sales for downtown Detroit businesses were hot even as the temperatures dipped into the 40s Saturday afternoon approaching the start of Game 3 of the World Series between the Tigers and Giants.
Most merchants said they expected business to be three to four times better than on a usual Saturday.
Shannon Eagan, merchandise buyer for Sports Mania, said the store does about $40,000 in sales during Octobers when the Tigers don't make the playoffs. As of Saturday, sales had hit $92,000 for the month, and Eagan expects those to reach $150,000 by the end of October. Last October, Sports Mania did $120,000.
The store has doubled its staff and is staying open extra hours, Eagan said.
The best selling items have been Miguel Cabrera jerseys ($109), dugout jackets, T-shirts with players' names and numbers on them ($24.99), and anything with a World Series logo on it.
Bouzouki, an adult entertainment club in Greektown, was preparing for lines out the door Saturday night and had increased its staff by about 40 percent to handle the crowds, said manager Jason Johnson. He expected traffic to the club to start picking up around 10:30 p.m.
More family-friendly bars and resaurants were hopping, too. Managers at Cheli's Chili, State Bar and Hockeytown Café all said they expected three- and fourfold increases in their business Saturday as a result of the World Series game.
Managers Clint Kirsh and Craig Doyle at State Bar and The Fillmore, both run by Live Nation, said they expected 6,000 to 8,000 people by closing time. On a Saturday with a regular season game, they added, the two connected locations serve a couple hundred customers.
The increase in volume for Saturday's Series game, they said, was comparable to Opening Day. Except, said Hockeytown general manager Steve Davidson, that for the home opener "people are here to drink," so overall sales are higher because of the alcohol sales.
Davidson increased staffing at Hockeytown from the usual 60-70 people to 100-110, expecting three to four times the business of a regular Saturday. Most of the added staff consisted of security, cleaning staff and bartenders.
Not everyone downtown was expecting a windfall. Taxi driver Gurpreet Arora said he wasn't getting much business as when the Super Bowl took place in Detroit in 2006. "Not even close," he said.
Arora had been working since 6 a.m. Saturday and had made about $60 as of 3 p.m. He paid $50 to lease the cab and put $17 in gas in the vehicle.
Near the stadium, a ticket scalper who declined to give his name but said he's a season ticket holder, said he expects to make $15,000 from selling playoff tickets this year. He was hoping to make $500 for a lower bowl ticket to Game 3, but said he would accept $400. He added that standing room tickets were selling for $200 to $300 apiece. "I ain't doing nothing that Stub Hub ain't," he added.
Meanwhile, peanut vendor Colie Wheeler was peddling his bags of nuts ("Cajun or regular?") at a brisker pace than usual. Wheeler, who sells peanuts along Woodward for $2 a bag, expected his sales to jump from 70-80 bags on regular game days to at least 200.
At the official Tigers merchandise store at Comerica Park, shirts and sweatshirts and hats were flying off the shelves.
The best sellers have been "all over the place," said store manager Lando Jerdine, adding that sales at the store have been higher than after Detroit won the American League Championship against the Yankees. Sales of the newly arrived World Series gear were among the hottest in the shop on Saturday, he said.