The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

November 27, 2013

Tide or Tigers? Local stores ready for fans

By Budd McLaughlin

— The new trend in fanwear appears to be the chevron style and that has proven popular with area Alabama and Auburn fans.

In response, local stores have been stocking up on apparel and other merchandise leading up to Saturday’s Iron Bowl.

This year, the game has been taken to a new level with the clash being between two top four teams for the first time in the series’ storied history.

In a normal year, apparel, hats, merchandise and collectibles would be selling well. But, ahead of this year’s game, they have been flying off the shelves.

“It’s been pretty strong,” said Mark Griggs of Gray & Holt in downtown Athens. “Alabama is a big seller and we’re selling more Auburn (apparel) than last year.”

Griggs said he’s found the new style to be a strong seller here, also.

“The chevron pattern is popular this year in T-shirts,” he said. “For both teams.”

Jess Kirstins, manager at Hibbett on U.S. 72, said the chevron style is also a favorite with her customers.

“Anything with the chevron pattern is big,” she said.

Of course, the classic houndstooth check design continues to grow with Bama fans.

“We’ve sold a lot of houndstooth,” Griggs said. “Anything with the houndstooth has been pretty good.”

Kirstins mentioned another style that has captured the attention of Tide fans.

“Tusk wear is a huge deal right now,” she said.

Cory Bennett of Bennett’s Clothing in downtown Athens said the popularity of that line is a surprise.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” he said. “We’re just about sold out.

“I think by the end of the week, we should be restocked.”

Auburn’s surprising success this season has proved to be a boon for the merchants since Tigers’ fans are spending more than they did during last year’s forgettable season.

“Auburn fans are out buying this year,” Griggs said. “Saturday we sold a lot and (Monday) was pretty steady.”

Bennett said he has seen a bump in Auburn merchandise sales, as well.

He also said there is “a high demand” for “spirit jerseys” which have “War Eagle” or “Roll Tide” on the back and the store has sold a lot online.

With the game day and holiday approaching, Griggs said business has picked up in the last week and Kirstins said she expects business to be brisk since the game conveniently falls just after Black Friday.

“We’ll be busier over the holiday,” she said. “We’ll be bracing for Friday.”