August 30, 2014

Elyria
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Opportunistic vendors take their shot in cavs-crazy communities

Traveling businesses set up shop, and want their stuff to turn over

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Jimmy Devine has been to the locales of more NBA championships than Michael Jordan, but he doesn’t have a clue what it takes to win one.
All the 49-year-old from Tennessee knows is that hometown fans go crazy for their teams, and they like to buy plenty of $20 T-shirts.
“I don’t know what number (LeBron James) is,” he said. “But as long as you’re polite and nice to customers, they’ll buy anything.”
Devine made the trip to North Ridgeville from eastern Tennessee to sell Cleveland Cavaliers merchandise outdoors, and he isn’t alone.
North Ridgeville approved five other temporary business permits to salespeople with similar aspirations in the days surrounding the Cavaliers championship series, and Avon Lake gave the OK to two companies based out of Florida and North Carolina.
Avon Lake Zoning Administrator Ruth Booher said although it’s been a while, the championship atmosphere brought out some of the same permit requests more than a decade ago.
“The last time we had a request to sell merchandise was in 1995 when the Indians were in the World Series,” she said.
The approval process differs for each city, and often has to work its way through local police and fire departments, in addition to the businesses the outdoor tents are near.
While officially licensed Cleveland Cavaliers attire can’t be sold, apparel companies often produce replicas that carefully leave out the full names of players and the team’s full name.
Devine works for LNG Inc., a Florida-based sports apparel company, and pitched his sales tent on the corner of Center Ridge and Pitts roads on Tuesday. He said his boss told him where to go, and while the typical 12-hour workdays may be long, selling in an area starved for a championship has paid off.
The weather hasn’t been too bad, either.
“Business has been pretty steady,” he said. “I was in Chicago for the Super Bowl, and that weather was 20-below.”
North Ridgeville resident Sue Haller was on her way home when she saw Deville’s tent waving its Cleveland apparel at her in the wind.
She too, wasn’t sure who wore No. 23 for the Cavs, but that didn’t matter — she just knew her family needed Cavs gear.
“We’re having a big party tonight for the game and my husband didn’t have a shirt,” she said. “I might even come back for some more.”
Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-77129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.

060807vendor.jpg STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE
Jimmy Devine, of Crossville, Tenn., came all the way to Center Ridge Road in North Ridgeville to sell Cavaliers merchandise.