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Pinehurst Swings into U.S. Open Mode, Shoppers Hit the Pavilion

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PINEHURST — Thetown of Pinehurstis getting ready for theU.S. Open, but a huge merchandising effort is already under way.

Pinehurst expects to gross $5 million in merchandise alone from the event, and they are sparing no expense to make sure it happens.

"It looks like you're in a really expensive department store," says customer Diane Faircloth, who was describing the 1999 U.S. Open Merchandise Pavilion.

The pavilion is a souvenir seekers' paradise. Along with some of the prices, some other numbers are pretty staggering. The tent contains 27,000 square feet of merchandise that was trucked in on 25 trailers. There are nearly 1,000 volunteers working the pavilion during the tournament. All this is happening after more than two years of planning.

"To see something on paper and to work with the designers and the architects over the years, you are just used to seeing it flat," says pavilion organizer Patterson Temple, "and to walk into the building today and see everything up and in its place, it's very exciting."

It was exciting enough to get one non-golfer to buy merchandise.

"It is [exciting], you can feel it in the air," Faircloth said. "The closer it gets, the more excited people are getting, not just because of the golfers, but because of everybody coming in."

However, shoppers need to get to the pavilion fast, because they can only shop there for a few more days.

"When we open up Monday, the pavilion will only be accessible to credentials and ticket spectators," said Pinehurst sales director Stephen Cryan.

The prices are pretty steep, an average hat is $24 and a golf shirt runs about $66.

The state also wants to make sure this year's U.S. Open is on par with previous ones.

Part of the effort includes planting thousands of flowers in and around Pinehurst. Most of the plants are located at the major traffic circle in town. In all, the state has planted more than 70,000 flowers and 100,000 trees in the area.


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