TAMPA, Fla. — Stephen Sherman has "guardian angels" watching over him.
And those angels just happen to play for the Tampa Bay Rays, Lightning and Super Bowl-bound Buccaneers.
"It's been a wild ride," says the owner of Tampa's Heads and Tails, a cozy sports shop with original merch that covers the area's pro and college teams.
The small business owner has been able to keep pace with the bigger box stores thanks to lots of smarts and a healthy heaping of good luck.
Stephen bought the store in July, in the middle of the pandemic.
"It was definitely a leap of faith," he says with a smile.
But thanks in large part to the phenomenal success of the area's teams, from a Stanley Cup championship to runner-up in the World Series, Heads and Tails has been a smash hit. And now comes arguably the biggest prize of all: a Super Bowl featuring the hometown team.
"We've seen the community rally around the Bucs and Brady and Gronk and the Lightning and the Rays over the past six months," Stephen says.
Instead of trying to compete directly with big box stores, he's worked with local vendors to stock his shelves with original items you don't see everywhere else.
"That keeps people coming back and asking for more," says Stephen.
He also scored a major victory by landing a deal to sell an embroidered line of official Super Bowl merchandise. Only a few area stores were chosen.
More and more merchandise is still coming in. And the store owner is promising a lot more, especially after this Sunday.
"After the Bucs win, and I'm saying it's going to happen, the excitement in the community with last for weeks to come," he says.