Originally created 01/19/99

Falcons souvenirs are scooped up



A sign atop a rack of Falcons T-shirts and sweatshirts at J.C. Penney said it all: "Bound for the Bowl."

And they went -- as fast as customers could scoop them up.

The Atlanta Falcons are Super Bowl-bound, and fans across Augusta snapped up jerseys, T-shirts, hats and car flags Monday to show their support.

"They're just coming in picking up shirts and whatever Falcons stuff they can get their hands on," said Laura Jaime, manager of the athletic sportswear department at J.C. Penney Co.

Cathy Smith, clutching four each of Falcons championship T-shirts and "Miami Bound" caps, completed a mission for her husband and his friends at the Sports Authority store in the Augusta Exchange shopping center.

They called and asked her to buy the souvenirs -- fearing supplies would dwindle rapidly.

"We had calls last night for 30 minutes after the game," said Ben Johnson, soft-line merchant manager of the sporting goods store.

A shipment of hats commemorating Sunday's win arrived Monday morning, and by late afternoon there was a display table filled with championship T-shirts and sweatshirts. Car flags and a few license plates were also in stock.

George Anderson was on a fruitless search for a replica jersey of his favorite player, No. 56, Falcons rookie Keith Brooking.

The store sold out of jerseys Sunday night after the team won the NFC Championship in a thrilling game against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Falcons will battle the Atlantic Football Conference Champions Denver Broncos in the 33rd Super Bowl game Jan. 31 in Miami.

"I may need to save my pennies for the trip down there," Mr. Anderson joked.

The only Falcons-wear left at Jumbo Sports on Washington Road on Monday were a few baseball caps. The store sold out of clothing after the Falcons clinched the National Football Conference West Division Championship in December.

"We've had a lot of calls and people coming by today. We hope to get more merchandise at the end of this week or the beginning of next," said Susan Kneece, closing manager.

The shortage in Falcons paraphernalia is a result of low demand caused by the team's less-than-stellar performance in past years, theorized Brian Mundy of Hometown Sports on Columbia Road.

"They (manufacturers) didn't make much of it to start off because they didn't think the Falcons would make it this far. They've been dormant for so long," Mr. Mundy said.

Margaret Weston can be reached at (706) 823-3217 or mweston@augustachronicle.com.