Orange and Maroon Suddenly Has a Tint of Gold

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There is no delicate way to put it: Tragedy is good for business.

Virginia Tech merchandise is suddenly in hot demand among those wishing to show solidarity with the school, particularly since Friday has been designated as a nationwide "Orange and Maroon Effect" day.

Steve Glosh, the assistant director for Virginia Tech Services Inc., which operates the on- and off-campus bookstores where merchandise is sold, said demand has spiked in the store since it reopened this morning.

"It's been very active in the store all day," Glosh said. "House flags are particularly hot." He said the store has not been able to gather statistics yet on the increase in demand but has also been flooded by mail and Internet orders.

On eBay, the online auctioneering site, the number of new items advertised also spiked yesterday, from a preshooting average of about 40 a day to 208 yesterday. (See graph.) Many of the items have not received any bids, however -- evidence, perhaps, that buyers would rather give their business to the school.