Purple Flamingos Make Poor Boys A Ravens' Destination
In business 26 years at corner of German Hill Road and North Point, Mike Tyson’s Poor Boys Garden & Hearth changed dramatically last season when he made an impulse decision to stock purple flamingos – in honor of Dundalk’s beloved Baltimore Ravens.
Last fall, Mike Tyson, who has been selling vegetables, fruits and plants for a quarter of century – first out of a van and then a trailer – at the corner of German Hill Road and North Point, bought 50 purple flamingos at a show to sell at his store.
“Pink flamingos is Baltimore and purple for the Ravens,” Tyson recalled this week at his store. “I thought it connected the two.”
“We didn’t sell one of them.”
So, on a lark, Tyson snuck on to a neighbor’s property one night and placed one of the purple flamingos beneath the family’s Baltimore Ravens flag. In fact, he had so much fun doing it, he soon convinced his wife Tracey to help him load the rest in his truck and drive around Dundalk, placing them in the yards of every family flying a Ravens flag.
Tracey convinced her husband to add a little note on each purple flamingo, a little sticker that read, “You’ve been Flacco’d,” which included the Poor Boys name and address. They stayed out past 3 a.m. until they all the purple flamingos were gone.
Eventually, news got out through the media of the Tyson’s good-natured prank, and people, literally thousands, came from metro area – and farther – to Poor Boys looking to purchase the iconic Charm City symbol bathed in Baltimore Ravens’ colors.
The Tyson's organized a photo contest through the store, offering autographed jerseys, football and tickets to a Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steeler game as top prizes. (Check out some of the pictures from this year's photo contest featuring oversized purple "fan can hands", accompanying this story.)
By the middle of last season, the Mike Tyson had placed orders for 38,000 purple flamingos.
And in the process, Poor Boys was transformed in the fall and winter into a Ravens’ shopping mecca. The entire interior of the store, ceiling, floor, front, back, is crammed with the finest Ravens' gear. Never more so than when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers, like this week.
Still, a large garden store in the spring, summer and early fall, Poor Boys, also sells wood stoves, pellets, fireplaces and barbeques this time of year (thus the “hearth” in Poor Boys Garden and Hearth).
“We used to have section of one wall with Ravens’ stuff,” said Mike Tyson, gesturing to a back room. “I mean, it was a good selection of stuff, but nothing like this.”
The store’s been bumping with fans since before Christmas and has been busy all week with area fans looking to add to their Ravens’ collection and, especially, grab some anti-Pittsburgh T-shirts – including women’s tee’s with slogans like, “I’m too pretty to be a Steelers’ fan,” and “Real women don’t date Steeler fans.”
Ravens fans, Mike Tyson, noted, are very loyal, like his customers who have kept him in business all these years, but he's noticed they are especially buoyant at the moment.
“When they Ravens are playing well, you can feel the difference in here from the way the people come in and walk around and talk,” he said. “Everybody’s excited when they play like they last week (30-7 first round playoff win over Kansas City).
Other popular T-shirts this week include a drawing of a raven flipping a middle claw at Pittsburgh and the hottest selling "T", has a cartoon drawing of Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger bleeding from a broken nose (courtesy of Ravens’ tackle Haloti Ngata earlier this season.)
“That’s why I’m here, I wanted to get one of the Ben Roethlisberger T-shirts and I heard this is only place that has them,” said Matt Amendt of Perry Hall, who also predicted a 20-17 Ravens’ victory.
Tracey Tyson said along with the anti-Pittsburgh T-shirts, popular Ravens’ gear this week includes the giant purple “fan can hands,” flamingos, jerseys, beads – and toasters. Other fun items include Ravens’ snow sleds, slippers, hunting caps and floating beer coolers for swimming pools. Of course, they store sells every type of jersey under the sun. And, Tracey Tyson added, the store’s had so many requests for women’s thongs and boxer briefs, she’s already ordered the items for next year.
“It’s just amazing,” said Laurie Johann, from Bel Air, visiting the store for the first time and looking for Baltimore Ravens’ wine glasses. She predicted a big 27-17 Ravens’ win Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. “I’m going to tell everybody. This is like ‘Ravens’ Haven.’”