LIKE A MANAGER who has been to the postseason before, Chris Achilefu felt comfortable that he knew just what to expect at his Forman Mills store on Grant Avenue in the Northeast. After all, he had been through this before when the Eagles went to the Super Bowl. Sort the World Series merchandise. Set up the table where the items would go. And then move his staff and the World Series champion apparel into position once the game ended.
"Before we knew it, the game was over and in the next half-hour, we were mobbed," Achilefu related yesterday, still going on fumes after pulling an all-nighter. "We couldn't put anything on the table anymore, so we just opened boxes. And I'm telling you, they were into those boxes."
His story was a duplicate of one told by anyone involved in retail overnight. The calm before the storm, then the end of the game, then a sea of customers rolling in and washing back out with anything with Phillies markings or colors.
"We were as prepared as we could be," Scott Silnik, district manager for Sports Authority stores, said yesterday. But not necessarily ready for what was in store. "[After the game] I got over to the store in Turnersville [N.J.] where I live and there was a packed house. You couldn't find one parking space. There were five police officers from Washington Township directing traffic, and I would say at least 700 people in the front of the store. We had 800 units on hand and that was sold out in a half an hour."
While the 2-day suspension of play might have given Phillies fans angst, it turned into a blessing for some of the retail outlets. Modell's district manager Derrick Morgan said they were expecting to sell the basic world-championship gear for a day or 2. "You know what," Morgan said, "we actually ended up with more because of the game getting split up the way it did."
Not that fans were fretting over selection. Chris Streahle, the director of advertising and marketing for Forman Mills, said "the feeling [Wednesday] night was so strong and intense that it really didn't matter what it was. They were buying T-shirts, anything that said 'champion' on it." *
- Paul Vigna