Rays, Bucs spur rush for merchandise
TAMPA - Jermaine Ferris wanted to take some Tampa Bay Buccaneers T-shirts and other souvenirs to New Jersey. "It's hard living in another state when your team is a thousand miles away," said Ferris, who was in town for the "Monday Night Football" clash between the Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts. Besides four T-shirts, he grabbed some magnets, hats and a Fox Sports robot-type contraption. "He's going to decorate his cubicle at work," said cashier Christine Manley.Ferris and scores of others were stopping by places such as Heads and Tails on West Kennedy Boulevard on Monday with football and baseball fever. After all, the Bucs and Rays were playing before sold-out crowds in nationally televised games on Monday afternoon and night. Shelby Weir had a perfectly good Bucs shirt in her car for the football game but decided to make a pit stop anyway. "I'm taking a customer tonight, so I want to look good," Weir said. "And I'm helping the economy." A few miles east in downtown Tampa, sales were brisk at the Rays store on Tampa Street, where a cowbell hanging on the door rattled when customers walked in. Jock McGlathery of Carrollwood was checking out the latest hats, while David and Fredenel Spencer of Oviedo were looking at shirts. All three of them planned to attend Monday night's baseball game. "What a season," David Spencer said. And a good season for sales as well. "It's been tremendous," Rays Senior Vice President Mark Fernandez said of the demand for team-related items. "You try to anticipate it by ordering in advance," he said. "What we had in stock we went through immediately on Thursday and Friday" at the team's downtown Tampa store. The Rays have been selling as much in a day as they would in a couple of weeks before the march to the playoffs, Fernandez said. As soon as new shipments come in, they go back out in customers' hands. "The staff was literally selling shirts out of the boxes," Fernandez said. At Heads and Tails, there was a greater demand for Bucs gear than for Rays merchandise, an employee said. "The store's kind of busy right now," Brooks Jones said about midday Monday. Jerseys and T-shirts for the football games are the most popular item. "Everybody wants a new shirt," Jones said. "People are looking for sweatshirts because the weather has decided to change. It's a night game, and the weather is cooler than what we have been used to. It should be a great time tonight." Fernandez agreed. "I think it's a great night for sports in the Tampa Bay area," he said. "What a great thing for the whole area."
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