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Astoria stores stock goods praising Olympics in Athens

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As the heart of the city's Greek community, neighborhood stores are stocked with Athens 2004 T-shirts, bumper stickers, flags and buttons. The items have been flying off the shelves from Titan Foods on 31st Street, said manager Mike Kallas. For about a year he has been hawking a bunch of Olympic stuff in special sections near the check-out line. Heralded as the largest Greek food supermarket in the country, the store sells dozens of different blue and white T-shirts, Athens 2004 coffee mugs and baseball caps. Over by the register, all sorts of Olympic knickknacks are on display: bumper stickers for $4; key chains for $12; patches for $5; and Athena and Greek flag lapel pins for $9.Kellas said the most popular item by far has been the official Athens 2004 banner. Costing $40, it features a white olive branch wreath centered in a sky-blue square over the multi-colored Olympic rings. Kellas bought more than 100 of them last month. He has one left. "I wish I had more," he said. "Everybody's asking for them now."While he could not get a banner, 57-year-old Kestas Manesis was happy to settle for a couple of T-shirts. Wearing the short-sleeve Olympic shirt he bought back home in Greece earlier this year, Manesis was picking up a couple more."I'm getting one for my friend," He said. "They look good." Kellas said his Olympic goods really started to move after the Greek national soccer team won the European Championship last month. "That was good for business," he said. Over at Greek House Foods on 30th Avenue, Olympic goods have also been selling well since the soccer victory, said Sam Sotirsmalamis, whose family owns the store. He said customers who stop in for jars of preserved grape leaves, some fresh feta or kaseri have also been taking home T-shirts emblazoned with the Olympic rings or image of the Greek national team."Everyone's excited because its been like 100 years since we've had (the games)," Sotirismalamis said.Reach reporter Matthew Monks at 718-229-0300 ext. 156 or by e-mail at news@timesledger.com

Updated 7:20 pm, October 10, 2011
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