With the Orioles’ disappointing season at an end and the Ravens off to their worst start in franchise history at 1-6, Charm City residents haven’t had much to cheer about this fall in the sports world. But the doom and gloom hasn’t held back a number of Jewish sports store owners from pursuing their passion.
For Barbara and Arnold D. Cohen, opening Kids Stuff in the North Point Plaza Flea Market 15 years ago was a second act. Barbara, a former elementary school teacher, said the store began as a hobby for her and her husband, a former accountant with the IRS.
“It was just something we loved to do together,” she said.
Kids Stuff is open only on weekends during the flea market and sells clothes targeted at kids
between the ages of 1 and 5. They sell mostly
Orioles clothing in the spring, and in the fall it shifts to Ravens attire. Barbara Cohen said a stronger performance by the Ravens on the field would benefit them greatly but is not essential for their survival.
“It’s not going to help, but we’ll still sell Ravens,” she said of the team’s bad start. “It helps when they win, but there are people who just love the Ravens, and whether they win or lose, they still want to buy something for a kid.”
Cohen said the team’s performance often leads to a slight increase in sales, but its niche fan base keeps them in business.
“We’re still doing pretty good,” she said. “We have really adorable things that most people don’t have.”
The Cohens had a previous business endeavor that became the springboard for Kids Stuff, which is located in Dundalk.
“We opened a store in Glen Burnie when my son graduated from college and he wanted a business,” she said. “We opened a paint store, and I had a
little corner [where] I was doing gift things.”
Arnold D. Cohen said he enjoys operating Kids Stuff because the couple likes “dealing with people.”
“We just enjoy this type of business, and it gives us something to do on the weekends that we like,” he said. “And if it was open seven days, I’d still be there.”
While the Cohens operate their business on the side, retail is a way of life for Andrea Magee, who owns The Sports Nut in Sykesville. Magee previously owned Andie’s Candies in Eldersburg until its closing in 2012. At that point she decided it was time to switch gears from candy to clothes.
“There was no NFL store in Eldersburg, and people around here don’t like to go out to other towns,” she said. “They like to stay here.”
Magee and her husband, Jesse, decided to open a store containing apparel representing all 32 NFL teams, something in which he had an influence.
“He helped me in the football factor, but I’ve been owning my own business since I was 15 years old,” she said.
The couple’s store recently relocated to a more central spot on Main Street and celebrated with
a grand opening on Oct. 24. Magee said it was
difficult to determine whether the Ravens’
performance has had any impact on the store in the month it has been in its new location.
“I understand the Ravens are doing badly,” she said, “but we still get a majority of fans who stick with their team.”
Business has been slow at Marc Levy’s Sportsmart in East Baltimore but for an entirely different reason. Levy’s store was looted during the April riots, virtually wiping out his entire inventory.
“It’s just taken a while to get back to where things were before the looting,” he said. “It’s been real frustrating for everyone trying to get merchandise in here to sell and trying to get insurance to
reimburse us for the rioting situation.”
Levy is one of the brothers in his family-owned business and said in a normal year his store would be popular around tax-refund season during the spring and back-to-school shopping in the late summer. But this year, those patterns have been
disrupted. He said despite the setbacks, he expects football fans to show up to his store regardless of the team’s struggles.
“The Ravens’ diehard is going to buy a shirt or a jacket because they’re not going anywhere anytime soon,” he said.