Illinois man works The Mall and the nation offering items from freestanding store



By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

With holiday shopping in full force later this week, Russell Crifasi expects business to pick up at his kiosk at The Mall, 2918 Vine.

"It's slow right now," he said. "I'm hoping it does a lot better (this) week."

Crifasi's mother, Mary, owns the business, which sells sports-related items such as mugs, gloves, lamps, rugs, pictures, and also sells things without sports teams' logos on them.

"Just having a variety of stuff" is the key to good sales, Crifasi said.

That, and the price.

"There's not much markup on this stuff," he said.

Crifasi said the big sellers in Hays are anything with the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders on it. The lowly Kansas City Chiefs ... not so much.

"They say they should be marked down," Crifasi said with a laugh.

This is the first time the business has traveled to Hays. In years past, they've set up shop for the holidays in Dodge City, but expanded the business to give Hays a try, too, this year.

It makes for a lonely time, said Crifasi, who with his brother, Angelo, have split shifts at The Mall since arriving in town in late October.

"I don't like being away from home," said Crifasi, who is from Springfield, Ill. "I'm only home about three, four months out of the year."

During the spring and summer, he sells concessions at fairs. After Christmas, Crifasi will take time some time off before heading down to Texas in March to hit the fairs.

He will end up back home in Illinois for its state fair in August.

Soon after, it will be back to manning a kiosk, selling stocking stuffers.

"I'll be back here next year if it does OK here," Crifasi said.