Boost in business: Seahawks’ presence has made this no ordinary Super Bowl for stores looking to meet demand

Connie Arroyos of Whidbey Party Store hurries to prepare a Seahawks balloon bouquet Jan. 29 in Oak Harbor.

Connie Arroyos couldn’t fill the balloons fast enough.

Just moments after she completed her balloon bouquet, it was snatched up.

But it wasn’t just any bouquet.

Most anything blue and green has disappeared fast at the Whidbey Party Store in Oak Harbor this week in preparations for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Any Super Bowl matchup is traditionally a popular occasion for a party. But with the Seattle Seahawks involved Sunday, the impact has been felt at the cash registers of retail outlets on Whidbey Island.

Arroyos, a clerk at Whidbey Party Store, sold more than 30 blue 12th man flags at $24.99 apiece in a little more than three hours Wednesday.

“We can’t keep the Seahawks stuff on the shelves,” she said.

It’s a sentiment being repeated across North Whidbey as many businesses have tried to keep up with fans’ demands as Seahawks hysteria has risen through the playoffs.

The Seahawks are scheduled to tackle the Denver Broncos at 3:30 p.m. Sunday with the game aired on FOX.

The game is the most popular television event in the country with 108.4 million viewers tuning in for last year’s game, the third most viewed program in TV history.

The impact on Whidbey Island viewership will be immense considering the Seahawks are playing and if 12th man flags on cars or signs in business windows are any indication.

For grocery stores on the island, all this equates to a lot of fried chicken and chicken wing sales.

Steve Erbe, meat department manager at Saar’s Marketplace, said he is bracing for a bigger than normal rush for party wings, pork spare ribs, chicken and other meat items because of the Seahawks’ involvement in the Super Bowl.

The number of pre-orders for fried chicken is at least double the number from the Super Bowl last year when Baltimore and San Francisco were playing, said LuAnn Frazier, a clerk in the Saar’s deli department.

The Oak Harbor Albertsons capitalized on Seahawks hype by devoting an enormous amount of space at the front of the store, which was teeming with customers Friday morning. Since the store is affiliated with the Seahawks, it carries racks of the latest NFL-licensed T-shirts and sweatshirts, flags for cars and other merchandise.

“Every time I open a box, you can’t even get it on the shelf,” said Missy Volpe, the store’s customer satisfaction manager.

The bakery department also got creative by making large chocolate chip Super Bowl cookies and 12th man-frosted cakes, which are all part of the large display upfront.

Albertsons has carried Seahawks merchandise for months but at least tripled the amount once the playoffs started to meet customer demand and last week even painted the front wall blue, said Clint Brock, the Oak Harbor store’s manager.

“After the last regular season game and into the playoffs, interest really exploded,” Brock said.

Sales of Seahawks merchandise at Walmart in Oak Harbor has steadily increased all season, said Rich Mueller, the store’s assistant manager.

A hot item was the mini flags for vehicles. They sold out.

Walmart is one of several area stores that let its employees wear football jerseys this week, and not just the Seahawks.

One customer service associate, Tisha Adams, was wearing attire of her husband’s favorite team, the Denver Broncos. She said customers have been good-natured in their teasing.

“We encourage fair competition,” Mueller joked.

Competition is expected to be fierce among pizza makers on Super Bowl Sunday, too.

The Super Bowl is traditionally a big day for the pizza business. With the Seahawks in it, the assembly line of pizzas is expected to be long.

“We expect it to be a little busier than a regular Super Bowl,” said Dean Brandt, franchise owner of Domino’s Pizza in Oak Harbor. “Go Hawks!”