It's a quiet and chilly Sunday night in Media, Pennsylvania, a suburb located southwest of Philadelphia. But the doors to one retail store in the town's center are strangely wide open and bordered by red, white and blue balloons. Inside the store the misplaced scene continues - music is blaring and a large cake sits on top of the central display. A crowd of young and old interacts in a festive and lively atmosphere. Some kids are playing XBOX and a few gentlemen stand around a pair of kegs. Some women are at the counter buying merchandise. A Spanish La Liga match between Valencia and Barcelona is displayed on the store's large flat screens. An older woman walks by and asks what is going on. She is told that the store is celebrating and is offered a beer. She accepts and walks in.
This isn't a store celebrating the haul from a successful Black Friday sale. This is a local soccer store called Media F.C. celebrating its one year anniversary. And this also happens to be a celebration of a community and a sport, like only the sport of soccer knows how.
"I am amazed how strong the love for this sport really is," says owner Tom Kennedy as he cuts pieces of the cake and places them on plates.
"We opened last year and between the Christmas season and MLS Superdraft here in Philadelphia in January, everything was just phenomenal. People told me it was going to be great, but to see that many people show up was just amazing."
That's great to hear because the store looks amazing. The main room in the store is lined with soccer jerseys, televisions, soccer promoting t-shirts and gear - and there is a separate room dedicated to playing the latest FIFA game on XBOX. That room is clearly for building long term relationships, something Tom will continue to do in the store's second year.
"Looking forward it's really to continue to build our ties with the community and the brands. We just want to take our time and continue the momentum."
Media FC carries the merchandise of local clothing brands Live Breathe Futbol and Bark Tees. Tom also works with the local groups and schools in Media to tie into community events as well. But making the store a place where kids would want to hang out is also a priority.
"You don't see kids love football like they do soccer," he says half-amazed. That's a song sung by a man who has seen it firsthand. And while he's celebrating one year of business, he clearly has his eyes set long down the road.