As the Carolina Panthers prepare for the fourth playoff appearance in team history, their success has retailers' cash registers singing.
The Panthers, the No. 2 seed in the NFC, are set to play the Arizona Cardinals this Saturday at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium.
And local fans are buying up Panthers garb to show team pride.
Sales of Panthers paraphernalia are up 40 percent over this time last year at Belk at the Rock Hill Galleria.
"We've moved a lot of Panther merchandise," said Nikki Burton, a merchandise coordinator and a die-hard Panther fan. "This Saturday's home game is definitely a plus. It's to our benefit."
The store recently received a shipment of hats, short-sleeved T-shirts and long-sleeved, white 2008 NFC South Division champions T-shirts, Burton said.
And things are selling quickly.
"We only have seven long-sleeves left, and we probably got 30," Burton said.
Last week, the store moved around $2,000 in Panthers gear. On Saturday alone, fans purchased $600 worth, compared to just $100 at the same time a year ago.
The Panthers also have been a popular buy at Hibbett Sports in the Galleria, where sales of the team's gear are up about 5 percent since the team clinched a playoff berth, manager Cameron Crawford said.
"We're definitely doing a lot better in Panthers' apparel than we did this time last year," Crawford said. "This year, we were sold out of Panther jerseys before Christmas. Last year, they still had some afterwards."
On Sunday, Hibbett Sports' inventory included just two Steve Smith jerseys as well as one each of Julius Peppers and Jake Delhomme. The store had 15 jerseys arrive Thursday.
"It's mostly (Steve) Smith," Crawford said. "(Jonathan) Stewart and DeAngelo's (Williams) stuff is moving, too. Almost all of our Panther apparel is gone, but jerseys are the main seller."
But don't tell Rock Hill's Archie Brousseau that. The last Peppers' jersey has Brousseau's name on it.
"I've got to do something because I can't wear enough to show pride in my team," Brousseau, 22, said Saturday as he eyeballed a Panthers T-shirt at Hibbett Sports.
This is the team's first playoff appearance since 2005.
"This has gotta' be the year," said Brousseau, wearing a Panthers watch. "They have the right ingredients."
Brousseau spotted the right shirt and made his way to the cash register, where he snapped up a visor.
"You going to make me spend my whole paycheck," Brousseau quipped as the clerk popped a Panthers hat atop the T-shirt.
Brousseau abandoned the visor for the hat.
"I have a lot of (Panthers) stuff," Brousseau said. "If you see me at a game, I'm head to toe. In one year, I spend at least $4,000 to $5,000. My bedroom is black and blue even though my girlfriend hates it."
Then Brousseau, who works security at home games, eyed a Peppers jersey. He told Crawford he'd buy the jersey later this week and left the store.
Minutes passed before Alice Belk walked in and fingered a jersey.
"This one is for me," she said. "No. 89. Steve Smith."
Belk shelled out just a little more than $50 bucks, money well spent for a belated Christmas gift for herself, she said.
"Steve Smith is worth the investment," she said.
Just before game time Saturday, Belk will slip into her jersey. Brousseau plans to do the same.
"If it helps my boys out to show them pride, I'm going to do it," he said. "There's nothing finer than to be a Carolina fan."