World Cup big business for small Seattle companies



Posted on June 11, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 12 at 9:02 AM

SEATTLE -- Jeff McIntyre and Erin O'Brien were just two soccer fans with an idea.

They went to numerous matches in Seattle and were disappointed with the quality of the scarves they were finding. 

Now, seven years later, they have a warehouse that's a United Nations of woven wear.

"It's grown into something magnificent," said McIntyre, who founded Ruffneck Scarves back in 2006 and whose first customer was the Emerald City Supporters. 

Within a couple years, the Sounders FC made Ruffneck the official supplier. Now, the four person operation has expanded, and has a global view.

"So far this year, we've shipped 350,000 scarves, most of it related to the World Cup. So it's been great. We're about 60 to 65 percent growth over this time last year," said McIntyre. 

His two other employees spent Wednesday boxing up some of the remaining orders, including pubs when have been buying all the scarves of the 32 participating World Cup countries.

"It's something the world is passionate about," said Olugbenro Ogunsemore, who founded Trustee Apparel and is now spreading his love of soccer through art and getting help from a friend.

"It's summer time, so the tanks are coming in nice," said Lamar Neagle, Sounders FC Forward, who is moonlighting as a model for Trustee.  He and his Sounders teammates have been wearing the shirts and promoting them on social media.

"It's a time people get together, different countries, different nations, all races, all sizes, all shapes, from everyone comes together to celebrate the beautiful game," said Ogunsemore, who describes his shirts as "phenomenal, with soft fabric" and an extension of his day job as a photographer.  He says sales have been brisk in the build up to the World Cup.

Sports Business Journal says in a recent poll of U.S. Soccer fans, 82% were more excited about the event than four years ago. 

The U.S. plays Ghana on Monday afternoon.