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Royals’ success invigorates area businesses

Area businesses are anticipating a boost in sales since the Kansas City Royals clinched the American League Central Division title on Sept. 24.

The team’s success – the Royals are the first in Major League Baseball to sew up a division title this season – has already started boosting sales of Royals merchandise and is expected to pump up sales at sports bars and restaurants, including Mexican restaurants, some business people said.

Dominic Garcia, assistant manager of Rudy’s Tenampa Taqueria, 1611 Westport Road in Kansas City, said he expected the Royals’ success to inject some vigor in his business.

“We have five or six TVs,” Garcia told Kansas City Hispanic News. “Last year during the playoffs, it really killed our business. So we plan to offer promotions and specials when the playoffs start. We started ‘Monday Night Royals Night’ on June 8 with discounts for customers wearing Royals shirts or caps. Monday’s kind of a dead day, so we started the Monday night special.”

Staffers at Rudy’s also plan to wear Royals shirts “and maybe even blue face paint,” Garcia said.

“If we get our wait staff to get excited about it, it gets our customers excited to see what we’re doing,” he said. “I’ll even spray paint my hair blue or my face blue – whatever brings customers in and gets them excited. I think whenever people want to watch the Royals, they think about sports bars and the Power & Light District, but they don’t think about Mexican restaurants.”

Garcia is a Royals fan, and he thinks the Royals’ ongoing success is “wonderful not only for the general spirit of Kansas City, but also it’s good for business and the economy.”

Maria Chaurand, co-owner of La Fonda El Taquito, on the Westside at 800 Southwest Blvd., and her cohorts are “fanatics for the Royals, Sporting Kansas City and the Chiefs.”

Business increased during the Royals’ run for the World Series last year, Chaurand said, and she’s hoping for the same this year.

“I think it’s fabulous – we’re so proud of the city and the team,” she told Hispanic News. “The fans were supporting them when they weren’t on top. The Royals manager said we have the best fans in the nation.”

Mike Josefowicz, manager of Sporting Authority Sporting Goods in Kansas City North, said the Royals’ early division title was beefing up sales.

“We’re going to see more sales than last year because they clinched the division,” he said. “I just got off the phone with my district manager and told him we’re gonna need more merchandise.”

Josefowicz also considers himself a Royals fan, and he said the Royals’ success “means a lot to the community.”

“You can see it at the stores,” he said. “We try to keep Royals products on the shelves, and people are even more excited than last year.”

Toby Cook, vice president of community affairs and publicity for the Royals, said that having so much more lead time than last year will make the biggest difference.

“Last year, we didn’t know until the last few games whether we’d be in the playoffs,” Cook told Hispanic News. “When we clinched on (Sept. 24) we were locked and loaded at the team store (at Kauffman Stadium), and then we sold and sold all day Friday. We also had t-shirts and ball caps ready on (Sept. 24) with the logo ‘The Central Is Ours.’”

Brett Salzenstein, Aramark’s director of merchandise at Kauffman Stadium, said that he wasn’t at liberty to specify sales numbers but that he had seen a big bump in Royals merchandise sales.

“As soon as they clinched (the division title), we introduced an entirely new line of merchandise,” Salzenstein said. “We had about 300 people lined up outside the store (on Sept. 24) before the game was over. Last year, the excitement was unbelievable, getting into the playoffs the first time in (nearly) 30 years. This year, we had a lot more time to prepare.”

Cook said the effects of the Royals’ success go beyond dollars and cents.

“I’m a big fan of people from all different walks of life in the city having something to get together and cheer for,” he said. “I’ve been a fan ever since my dad took me to my first game in 1976, and the thing that’s meant the most to me, above any individual player, is the team’s effect on the community. You can’t buy that kind of good will for a metropolitan area.”