Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers started Bolo Mania in San Diego. The folks at James Gang hopped on board – and did some nice business in the process.
Rivers has gained national attention for his choice of postgame attire – a bolo tie – during the Chargers five-game winning streak that included an improbable playoff win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Last week, James Gang owner Paul Bearce helped fuel the fire when the OB printing company started making T-shirts with a bolo tie design that said “Fear the Bolo.”
It started on Tuesday morning, he recalls. “We had a customer come in looking for anything Charger.” But all they had was one shirt that said “Ocean Beach” in Chargers lettering. Not good enough.
So he put out a call to everyone at the shop: Best design would get made into a shirt. Employee James Donahue came up with the design, and 1,400 shirts later, James Gang was a part of Chargers lore.
“When I came in Wednesday morning, the phones were ringing and we had people all over the store looking for a bolo,” Bearce said. “We couldn’t do anything wrong. It kinda fell in our lap.”
The original shirt had a Chargers bolt logo as part of the bolo. That didn’t sit well with the NFL lawyers – who are notorious for sniffing out copyright infringements and threatening action. So Bearce and the boys made a quick alteration and put “SD” in place of the logo.
“Now those bolt shirts are kind of collector’s items,” Bearce said. He estimates they made around 300 of the original shirts. Both styles cost $10 each.
To complicate matters a bit, Bearce’s wife, Leighann, is a huge Denver Broncos fan – the team that beat the Chargers in the playoffs on Sunday. “She was very torn,” he said.
Chargers fever is subsiding after they were eliminated with the loss. But Bearce said they’ll keep making the shirts as long as people want them. And he’ll take the unexpected windfall during a normal down time.
“January’s typically pretty slow, so this was nice,” he said. “We were working around the clock. I never expected it to go like this.”
Neither did the Chargers.