Snow flies in August with Batman downtown

In Community by Flaherty & O'Hara

Where Downtown office workers saw fake snow and “Batman”-related traffic disruptions all around Wednesday, Jack Cohen saw a pretty big boost to his business.

Cohen’s Smithfield Street store, S.W. Randall Toys and Gifts, has been seeing a lot of Batman-related business over the past several weeks, from “The Dark Knight Rises” cast and crew as well as Batman enthusiasts looking for collectibles.

Bat-mania moved into overdrive Downtown on Wednesday, as Smithfield Street from Fifth Avenue to Sixth Avenue and Oliver Avenue from Wood Street to Grant Street were closed to accommodate film production. That led to changes in traffic and pedestrian patterns Downtown, an influx of passersby amazed at the fake snow flying on Smithfield Street and detours and reroutes for Port Authority of Allegheny County buses.

“It’s good for us. They’re going to end up right in front of the store,” Cohen said. “They’re supposedly jumping off a garage [in front of the store].” Cohen said he didn’t know any more details than that.

“You only hear bits and pieces,” Cohen said. “They [“The Dark Knight Rises” filmmakers] want it to be top secret, so it’s hard to know.”

What Cohen does know is that the movie and all things Batman have been a boom for S.W. Randall‘s, accounting for as much as 50 percent of its sales in recent weeks. Cohen spent months scouring the world for Batman-related toys and collectibles, knowing that they would be big sellers when the production arrived. And he wasn’t wrong.

One crew member bought a $2,000 framed print with the signatures of all the actors who have played Batman. Another bought three $40 Batmobile toys. And another seller has been old Batman-themed steins from Germany.