The World Cup party is in Brazil, but it appears Whatcom County residents are getting into the spirit.
World Cup-related soccer gear has been "flying off the shelves" at Soccer City's Bellingham store, and that's expected to continue in the next few weeks, said owner Drew Smiley. Surprisingly to Smiley, Argentina has been the top-selling gear at the store heading into the World Cup.
"We try to make sure we have every jersey in stock along with the official balls, but it has definitely been a chore keeping up with demand," Smiley said in an email. The store will be televising the games, offering price discounts on jerseys based on who is playing.
The World Cup festivities begin Thursday, June 12, when Brazil takes on Croatia and run through the championship match on Sunday, July 13.
Local restaurants and drinking establishments also are gearing up for the tournament. Bellingham's Copper Hog on North State Street will have four televisions on throughout the tournament and will give away 100 U.S.-Portugal scarves during the Sunday, June 22, match between the two teams, said owner Aaron Matson.
Later this month Matson plans on opening the Schweinhaus Biergarten, a German-style beer garden that's across the street from the pub. It will have outdoor seating and also televise the matches.
For more of a Latin American flair, the Peruvian restaurant Café Rumba on North State Street is offering live World Cup matches televised in Spanish, along with new breakfast items and some Brazilian coffee and other dishes, said co-owner Antonio Diaz. You don't need to know Spanish to enjoy a soccer match, he said, because you can always tell when something exciting is happening.
"Just hearing the 'Gooooooal!' shout is part of the experience," he said.
Other restaurants that have announced live viewings of the World Cup include Boundary Bay Brewery, Brandywine and Uisce.
During the 2010 World Cup, Matson said the Copper Hog was packed during the U.S. matches but not as much during the other games.
With a different time schedule (many of this year's matches are at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. local time), it will be interesting to see if Whatcom County residents will drop by establishments during the work week to catch some soccer action.
"I'm not sure what to expect, but customers have been talking about this for some time," Diaz said. "I'm about soccer, music, food and camaraderie, so I'm looking forward to a fun few weeks."
The World Cup has been much debated in Smiley's store in recent weeks, with customers and employees filling out brackets.
Even though the U.S. is in the toughest group, known as the Group of Death, Smiley is hopeful that it can advance out of the group stage. As for the champion?
"I would say Germany. It would be the first time a European team has ever won it in the Southern Hemisphere, but there has to be a first time," he said.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
For ongoing coverage of the 2014 World Cup, go to bellinghamherald.com/world-cup.