When it comes to Pope Francis’ visit next weekend, local businesses know they have to seize the opportunity before it is gone.

“I think from a merchandising standpoint, it’s a here-and-now type of moment,” said Kathy Buxton, public relations manager at Boscov’s, which has been selling pope T-shirts and jewelry for the past three months.

The retail store started selling $79.99 Lenox Pope Francis figurines in the beginning of July, she said.

They sold so well the store rolled out pope jewelry and T-shirts, now selling for $5, with slogans such as “#popeinphilly.”

Another shirt features his holiness dressed in an Eagles jersey.

Buxton knows this type of business won’t last forever, but she thinks the product’s success is due to how this pope is seen by the public.

“More and more people have gotten to know him and his mission and he’s done an excellent job at getting his mission out and that touches all types of consumers,” she said.

Julie Ruth, professor of marketing at Rutgers University, said businesses such as Boscov’s are looking at the positive side of the pope’s visit, unlike the fears of traffic delays and transportation nightmares heard in the news.

But there is definitely a buzz, she said.

And that buzz has reached local bars in the area as Cape May Brewing Co. has finally released its pope pale ale, #YOPO. The brewery will tap the beer Sunday.

“At its best, religion — like good beer — has the power to bring people together,” said Alicia Grasso, the brewery’s marketing guru. “So the little bit of overlap seems appropriate to us.”

Micchelli’s Pizza in Somers Point has been serving pies in pizza boxes that welcome the pope to Philadelphia.

“I’ve had a couple people come in and ask for unused boxes for a keepsake,” White said. But Micchelli’s has turned down advertising offers for programs, handouts and church pamphlets to advertise for a very simple reason.

“We just thought, ‘Well, he isn’t coming to Atlantic City,’ so we decided not to take part in those ads,” White said.

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I’ve written for multiple publications including Levittown Now, Passyunk Post, Philadelphia Neighborhoods,Temple News and JUMP Magazine. I’ve covered arts, entertainment, business, music, sports and local government. Experienced in videography.