Olympia Sports manager trainee Jacqueline Bevier, left, helps regular customer Charissa Kennard from Conway, New Hampshire, explore the store's collection of Patriots souvenir clothing options at the Maine Mall store. Photographed on Wednesday, January 16, 2013.
By Leslie Bridgers
Portland Pie Co. will double its fleet of delivery drivers Sunday. Prep cooks at Buck's Naked BBQ will get to work before sunrise to start making wings.
And if the New England Patriots win the AFC championship game, Olympia Sports in Westbrook will send trucks to Massachusetts on Sunday night to be at the front of the line for shirts and hats printed with the team's latest title.
Those businesses in southern Maine benefit from the football season regardless of who's playing. When the Patriots make a run for the Super Bowl, they can count on even bigger spikes in sales.
"There's no question about it," said Tim Longstaff, general sales manager for National Distributors in South Portland.
Among the beverages that National Distributors provides to 475 stores and 580 restaurants and bars in southern Maine is Bud Light -- the official beer of the NFL.
"We're already busy this time of year, but the Patriots probably add 50 percent more business," Longstaff said.
Lance Meader, who owns Rivalries Sports Pub and Grill in Portland, said he plans to "go heavy" on his beer order this week. He will have as many as 10 kegs of Bud Light on hand, and 60 kegs in all.
He said he doesn't think that Rivalries will go through all of that on Sunday, but what's left over won't go bad.
"We'll definitely double, if not triple, the sales that we would have on Sunday if the Patriots weren't playing," he said.
People assume that the Super Bowl is the season's biggest money-maker for sports bars, Meader said, but in reality that game "is kind of irrelevant because there are so many house parties."
An AFC championship game that features the local favorite team will almost certainly draw more business than the Super Bowl, Meader said.
Dan Drouin, owner of the Stockhouse Restaurant and Sports Pub in Westbrook, agreed.
"All it takes is a few of your regulars to say, 'I'm having a bash at my place,' " he said of losing out on Super Bowl business.
But for this weekend, he's ordering an extra 200 pounds of wings to prepare for the crowd.
Even though bars expect bigger crowds for the conference championship game than the Super Bowl, plenty of people will be watching from home on Sunday. And that's good for other businesses.
For those fans, Hannaford Supermarkets will have chips, chicken wings and deli platters displayed prominently, said company spokesman Eric Blom, who wouldn't say exactly how much of those products the stores will stock.
Even though four of the five states that have Hannaford stores are in New England, Blom said the Scarborough-based grocery chain isn't making special preparations just because the Patriots are playing.
At Portland Pie Co., however, plans are made before every Patriots game, said Dan Thomson, director of operations for the five pizza restaurants in Maine and New Hampshire.
During the playoffs, every Pats win is followed by a staff meeting Monday to review the schedule. "We line up more drivers, more cooks, more servers out front," Thomson said.
He said he didn't know how many pizzas the restaurants sell on a big game day.
Olympia Sports, a Westbrook-based chain of 225 athletic apparel stores, is too late if it waits until Monday morning to figure out the logistics, said Bob Boland, the general merchandise manager.
If the Patriots win Sunday night, two or three trucks will leave Westbrook for printing plants in Massachusetts, where they will pick up products naming New England the AFC champion.
The truck drivers will then meet at a location that Boland wouldn't disclose and divvy up the merchandise to 20 drivers who will deliver it to stores -- ideally, before the stores open Monday morning.
Patriots apparel is already Olympia Sports' best-selling NFL gear, but "it's a game-changer when they make it this far," Boland said.
As the retail stores respond to the influx of customers after every postseason win, he said, the corporate office starts planning for the next one.
"It will be a busy Monday, we hope," he said.
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:
CORRECTION: Because of a photographer’s error, a photo caption for this story misspelled Jacqueline Bevier’s name and should have identified her as a manager trainee at Olympia Sports. The caption was updated Monday, Jan. 21, 2012.Tweet