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Oklahoma City Thunder fever strikes local businesses and artists
By Heather Warlick
| Published: May 21, 2012
Thunder fever is sweeping the state as Oklahoma City's hometown NBA team gets closer to a title, and local businesses are rejoicing as loudly as hard-core fans.
“It's better than Christmas,” said Amanda Bradway, who owns DNA Galleries along with her husband Dylan Bradway.
DNA Galleries is one of many local businesses selling heaps of Thunder gear daily. While the Bradways never expected to find retail success selling pro sports memorabilia — until now, their focus has been squarely on promoting local artists and designers — the couple is enthusiastic about their booming business.
“Our goal is to support local artists in whatever capacity they want to express their creativity and right now, it seems like Thunder fever is riding high,” Amanda Bradway said. The shop features items from about 12 local designers including Bombs Away, PromiseArt and Scott Twitchell.
At DNA Galleries, you'll find a large selection of Thunder T-shirts, hair accessories, jewelry and even items to help pets Thunder up — a top seller is a doggy bandanna emblazoned with the phrase “Thunder Pup.”
Next door to DNA Galleries in the Plaza District, Collected Thread is finding similar success with its Thunder offerings. Collected Thread offers several T-shirt designs for adults along with some adorable baby and toddler designs, many of which feature Rumble the Bison, the team mascot. A top seller there is an orange T-shirt that says “The Beard.” On the underside of the front bottom of the shirt is a James Harden beard that fans can hold up to their faces.
“I never would have guessed that the Thunder being here would directly affect local businesses as much as it has,” said Caleb Arter, owner of Blue Seven in Oklahoma City. Like DNA and Collected Thread, his shop carries a wide variety of Thunder gear including T-shirts, dresses, jewelry and buttons.
Thunder fever even trickles down to support local charities. At Blue Seven, you can buy a pair of Thunder Toms featuring “OKC” and a thunderbolt, embroidered by local African refugees at The Spero Project, a charity that partners with the community to benefit refugees with education, job training and advocacy.
Arter said he's heard in the past how professional teams can bolster local businesses but never realized how much until now. The seemingly never-ending flow of customers lining up at his cash register, buying Thunder wear makes that fact crystal clear.
“It's been a huge blessing for us,” he said. “As we win more and more, business gets better and better.”
It's a blessing for the many local artists, too, who have jumped on the current Thunder fever, producing creative designs in high demand for the booming Thunder wear market. At Blue 7, Arter said he carries items designed by about 18 local artists.
You can even wear your Thunder pride on your fingernails with team nail decals, sold at Party Galaxy.
High-end local jewelers are also getting in on the action. Mitchener Farrand can't seem to keep Thunder jewelry in stock, owner Mark Mitchener said. The store carries several pieces with affordable prices and a few big ticket items priced about $10,000.
Whether the Thunder snags a title or not, the Oklahoma City team has added an exciting camaraderie to its city that is evident in Oklahoma's new favorite color scheme: Thunder blue, orange and white. Thunder up!