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Dealers expect price increase on signed Favre items

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Favre's sudden retirement has Green Bay Packers fans racing to memorabilia stores, eager to snatch up autographed items like footballs, pictures and helmets.

Store owners said Wednesday they expect some spike in prices, but it's too soon to tell how much -- and when.

"It all depends on how much Brett wants to sign," said Mike Worachek, owner of Packer City Antiques. "If he still wants to sign for a while while demand is up, we will still be able to get it."

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau has warned fans that Favre memorabilia is likely to rise in value, and it urged buyers to make sure items had authentic Favre signatures.

The 38-year-old Favre, a three-time league MVP and holder of several passing records, told the team Tuesday he was retiring after 17 seasons, 16 of them in Green Bay.

That news sent a rush of collectors to Worachek's store.

"Anything and everything autographed by Brett Favre has been selling -- full-sized helmets, 8-by-10 photos, footballs," Worachek said. "The phone batteries went dead [Tuesday], we were on the phone so much. It is kind of funny."

At $489 each, Worachek sold six helmets autographed by Favre on Tuesday alone. The businessman said he wouldn't have sold any without the retirement announcement.

"They think the prices are going to go up," Worachek said. "I have not raised my prices yet, not until I have to replace things. If the price goes up, then I will."

Ken Carriveau, manager of Stadium Sports and Memorabilia in Ashwaubenon, said he had more people than usual stop in Tuesday offering to sell him Favre stuff they had collected. "It's that element that thinks they will make a quick killing on something," he said.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette rushed 50,000 copies of a 12-page extra edition to the streets Tuesday, hours after the first word of Favre's retirement. It was the newspaper's first extra edition since Sept. 11, 2001, and editor John Dye expects it to sell out and become another collector's item for die-hard fans.

"Copies are already being offered for resale on eBay," Dye said. "At least one person was asking $19.95 for our $1 extra. We had folks coming into our lobby buying multiple copies."

Nick Parsons, manager of Helmet Central, a sports memorabilia store in Appleton, said his store sold 17 Favre autographed items Tuesday, ranging in price from $159 to $599.

Two people were waiting for him to open his store Wednesday morning and one of them bought an authentic, autographed No. 4 Packers jersey for $499, he said. "She is a regular customer. She wanted to get it before the price increase for her son."

Parsons said the store was told a week ago to expect price increases -- from $25 to $100 an item -- for memorabilia that Favre sells through his signing agent.

"It kind of made us think, because the last four or five years they haven't done that when there has been retirement speculation," Parsons said.

In the short run, store owners said Favre's retirement will be good for business.

"In the long run, there is no way of telling," Parsons said. "It certainly won't be as busy for us during the holidays without him being an active player. That will probably hurt the business until they can develop another superstar."

That could be new Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, though he has some big shoes to fill in the memorabilia business, too.

"We don't have any of his signed items here in the store right now," Parsons said.