Description: seller of vintage sports apparel reproductions
Startup: $30,000 to $45,000 in 1998
2004 projected sales: between $4 million and $5 million
Taking off: In 1998, Atlanta bar owner Andy Hyman boarded a plane for a New York City vacation, hoping for some relaxation and new possibilities. Tired of the late hours at his bar, he was ready for a change. Little did he know, inspiration would hit before the plane even touched the ground. While browsing through a catalog, he spotted a replica of a Montreal Canadiens hockey sweater. Confident that a store selling reproductions of retro sports merchandise from famous and sometimes extinct teams would be a hit among sentimental sports fans, Hyman decided to open a kiosk, dubbed Distant Replays, in Atlanta, where no such stores existed.
The big leagues: The kiosk overflowed with jerseys, hats and dugout jackets for a year and a half until Hyman was able to expand into an 800-square-foot store. Now he has enough space to welcome visiting teams and host special appearances by athletes like Magic Johnson. Though his store, with its hundreds of logos, has become a must-see location for sports fans, he does all he can to further develop the business. He sponsors local teams, forms partnerships with sports agents, and even sends limousines to transport players from their hotels to the store.
Home run: Hyman found his niche on the upswing when rappers like Big Boi (from Outkast) inadvertently doubled the company's sales by sporting jerseys in their music videos. Distant Replays may be making millions, but there's nothing more valuable than keeping sports history alive. Says Hyman, "I get pleasure from seeing people get excited about buying [the apparel of] their favorite players from when they were little."