By Drew Olson Special to Published Dec 11, 2007 at 5:19 AM

A man walks into the Intergalactic House of Hotcakes, sees the owner at the counter and says "Hello, Henry. How is business?"

Henry looks up from the counter and says, "It's just crazy."

The customer asks: "How are the blueberry hotcakes selling?"

Henry returns to wiping the counter and says, "Incredible. They're selling like Brett Favre jerseys."

The preceding exchange was, as you may have gathered, fabricated, fictional, farcical and just for fun.

But, it should give you an idea of how crazy things have been for retailers who sell sports memorabilia during what is rapidly becoming a memorable season. The Packers' success, intertwined with the upcoming holiday season, has meant a lot of green for people who sell things pertaining to the Green and Gold.

"We have been really, really busy," said Jeff Lemieux, owner of Jeff's Sports, which operates stores in Brookfield, Menomonee Falls and at Mayfair Mall.

"There is a lot of demand right now for Packers stuff and most of that is for Favre."

Lemieux has been an authorized dealer of Favre autographed memorabilia, in stores and online, for more than a decade. He said the current demand for merchandise is similar to what happened during the Super Bowl years in the late 1990s.

"I think what makes this year different is that it was so unexpected," Lemieux said. "When they went to the Super Bowl the first year, it was crazy. The next year, it was busy but it still wasn't as nuts because people kind of expected it.

"This year, nobody thought they were going to be good. A lot of people figured ‘If they go 8-8, that's a really good year.' Everybody loves an underdog."

With a lopsided victory over Oakland Sunday at Lambeau Field, the Packers clinched the NFC North Division title -- with three games left to play. By Monday morning, fans were waiting to purchase commemorative T-shirts at the Kohl's Department Store at 124th Street and North Avenue, and other locations.

"I don't remember them clinching this early," Lemieux said. "It's nice for us retailers. It gives us three weeks to sell the stuff. Usually, you get a shipment of shirts one week and then there is another game right away. If they win that, there is a new shirt and people say ‘I don't want the old one. I want the new one.' This is good timing for us. I'm sure they'll move."

It's not just T-shirts that are moving. Virtually everything item imaginable is emblazoned with a Packers "G" and is for sale somewhere.

Just inside the door at Sportsworld, 12201 W. North Ave., owner Tim Seeger has a Packers riding lawn mower on display for $3,495. Inside Jeff's Sports, there is a 4-ft. Favre bobblehead that lists for just less than $3,000. There are lower-priced items as well, such as autographed pictures and mini-helmets for less than $200.

"I know that $200 is a lot of money, but in our industry, Brett Favre is still a buy," Lemieux said. "His stuff is still cheaper than Tom Brady's or Peyton Manning's. From a business standpoint, I tell people that they can't go wrong with Favre stuff."

Favre has been long been the most popular Packers player. That hasn't changed this season, as he was recently named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. Area newsstands sold out quickly and Lemieux will soon have signed, framed copies for sale.

"The Packers are playing great and he's one of the major reasons," Lemieux said. "That is a huge part of it. Even before the season started, we knew if Favre stayed healthy he was going to break a lot of records. As good as he is, people appreciate it but they don't realize it until they hear about the records. It's just amazing."

Favre's on-field performance, coupled with his national exposure on sports shows and TV commercials, means increased demand for jerseys and signed items.

"One thing with Favre is that he's popular everywhere," Lemieux said. "He's one of the rare guys in that people will buy his stuff even if they don't like the Packers. We get people ordering things online and they're Steelers fans, but they watch Favre and feel like they have to get something.

"The only guy I can compare him to is (former Chicago running back) Walter Payton. Even if you weren't a Bears fan, you'd be interested in a Walter Payton autograph. People just had a lot respect for him and I think they see Favre in the same way.

"It's been amazing. As popular the Packers are, there is a big difference between Favre and everybody else."

In recent years, there has been a vast difference in demand for Packers and Brewers memorabilia. Though the Packers still reign supreme, the Brewers are starting to close the gap a bit.

"There is a lot of interest," Lemieux said. "Prince Fielder's stuff is hot. Prince and J.J. Hardy and Ryan Braun are the big guys right now. People are excited about the Brewers, but it's mostly Packers right now."

The success of the current Packers is even driving interest among collectors of items from the Lombardi era players.

Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.