Fans go ape for Avril T's

DOUG LUNNEY

, Last Updated: 10:26 PM ET

WINNIPEG -- A hardware store may be the last place one would expect to find a throng of young pop music fans, but they've been bolting to Home Hardware stores across Canada.

More than 8,000 Home Hardware T-shirts, identical to the one Canadian singer Avril Lavigne proudly wore when she performed on Saturday Night Live on Jan. 11, have been flying off the shelves.

It's uncertain how many of the limited edition shirts have made their way to Manitoba, but a shipment of about 50 that went to a Selkirk location has drawn little interest since it arrived about a week ago.

"There hasn't been any craze here so far," store owner Richard Borthistle said yesterday. "We're a hardware and building material store. The people who are looking for those kinds of things aren't expecting them here, I don't think.

"The other stores would have had a chance to buy them, but you couldn't just pick up any quantity that you wanted. There was a limited amount and that was it."

The shirts, similar to one Lavigne wore while playing soccer in Napanee, Ont., have "Napanee" printed under the Home Hardware logo and a No. 2 on the back.

"I guess No. 2 was her soccer number," Borthistle said. "(Wearing the shirt) must have been something she did on impulse or for comfort, I don't know."

Home Hardware sells the shirts for $19.99, with $5 originally going toward the Napanee soccer club. After the huge response from fans across Canada, Home Hardware announced yesterday that it has produced a new version of the Napanee T-shirt, with proceeds from the sale going to benefit The Hospital for Sick Children Foundation.

As of yesterday, there were 16 of the shirts selling on eBay, going for as much as $35 US.

"Because we don't have a formal sponsorship agreement or endorsement program in place with Miss Lavigne, we've relied on the media and word of mouth to sell the shirts for us -- and that very much has happened," company spokesman Rob Wallace said yesterday from Home Hardware's corporate office in St. Jacobs, Ont.


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