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Local stores have Favre fever

Brett Favre novelties are displayed In the hallway outside the Fan Zone store in the Kandi Mall in Willmar. <b>(Tribune photo by Scott Thoma)</b>

Not all Minnesota Vikings fans are sold on the team having a former Cheesehead barking out signals in purple. But local retailers are cashing in on Brett Favre paraphernalia since he decided to wear horns on his helmet.

"We had 36 (Favre) jerseys in right after he signed," said Dawn Fisch, men's clothing manager at JCPenney at the Kandi Mall in Willmar. "We sold them all in the first few hours. Then we ordered 72 more and we've sold about half of those. I know the other Vikings merchandise is now selling better because of Favre. When customers come in to get a Favre jersey, they're buying other Vikings items, too."

Buts fans can also be fickle. While local merchants have had little trouble acquiring white Farve jerseys, not all they have been able to get orders filled for No. 4 purple jerseys.

"Most people want the purple Favre jersey," said Arnie Goers, the manager of Dunham's Sports in the Kandi Mall. "We've sold some of the white jerseys. And they are selling better than I thought, but most customers would much rather have the purple jersey."

Herbergers in the Kandi Mall also is profiting from the popularity of the veteran quarterback, even if he was in the enemy camp across the border for many seasons. An initial order of 18 jerseys was gone the first day. Sales have slowed since the first few days of his signing with the Vikings, but remain steady.

Signs are displayed at several locations in Willmar, signifying that a particular store is stocked with Favre merchandise. A huge sign sits in front of the Kandi Mall on U.S. Highway 71 from Fan Zone indicating the store is carrying Favre merchandise.

"We've already had three separate orders for Favre jerseys," said Aaron Hofland, who is co-owner of Fan Zone with Rodney Staska in the Kandi Mall. "I don't know the exact count, but I wouldn't be surprised if we have sold 100 or more so far. The Favre novelties are selling a little bit, too, but not like the jerseys. We have both the purple and white and they are both selling well."

Target in Willmar has an end cap near the hardware department that has various Favre merchandise, including license plates, bumper stickers, plaques, pennants and flags. One clerk said the merchandise, including jerseys in the men's department, sold well when Favre first signed, but "has cooled off recently."

Several other stores in Willmar are also selling merchandise bearing Favre's name; each with various success.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Favre's jersey was the best-selling jersey for any NFL player from April 2009 to the end of the preseason and had the top seller in 19 states.

"I think we'll see more jerseys sell if he and the team have a good season," said Hofland.

No matter how successful Favre is this season, there are still going to be die-hard Vikings fans who refuse to wear the apparel of a former Packer. They likely would have been happier if the soon-to-be 40-year-old quarterback had just stayed retired.

Even if he had remained retired, though, someone probably still would have tried to cash in on the NFL's all-time leader in completions, yards and touchdown passes. And we might be doing a story instead on how well Brett Favre rocking chairs are selling.