SBD/March 29, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Kentucky Merchandise Flying Off Shelves In Wake Of Team's Return To Final Four

Kentucky Final Four locker room shirt in demand after victory
The Univ. of Kentucky men's basketball team is making its first appearance in the Final Four since '98, and the "must-have for Wildcat fans is 'the locker room shirt,' as in the one University of Kentucky players were wearing" after their victory over North Carolina on Sunday, according to a front-page piece by Janet Patton of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Lexington-based Kennedy Book Store Assistant Manager Chris Lawrence noted that his store had Final Four shirts, hats and "about a dozen other items up on its Web site. ... within 15 minutes of the game ending." By 8:00am CT Monday, "there were more than 200 orders waiting to be filled." Lawrence: "It's been 13 years since we went to a Final Four, so I think people are hungry." JCS Enterprises President Larry Lambert said that sales of UK merchandise "began to pick up Saturday, after Kentucky made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament." Lambert: "I suspect this is going to be a big week." Meanwhile, Lexington-based Wildcat Wearhouse "began printing 5,000 shirts Sunday," and employees "worked through the night, stopping at 5 a.m. to box and load shirts into any vehicle with wheels so they could get them to stores across the state." Those shirts sold out, and an "additional 13,000 shirts, printed elsewhere, were on their way." Patton notes at that pace, sales "will top those after the 1998 national championship, when the company sold about 13,000 shirts." The sales "mean additional money for the university, which gets a 10 percent royalty off every shirt" that Wildcat Wearhouse and sister store Hands On Originals make and sell (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 3/29).

UNCHARTERED WATERS: In Richmond, Kristen Green notes Barnes & Noble @ VCU Bookstore yesterday was "transformed into fan central, as students, alumni and area residents lined up to buy gold and black NCAA Final Four T-shirts." The line of fans "stretched out the building and down the block" to get their shirts commemorating VCU's first Final Four trip. More shirts are "expected to arrive today, and the bookstore expects to sell 30,000 this week." Green notes all the "T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, travel mugs and anything that says 'VCU' went out on the floor" Sunday, so the store "started making desperate calls to vendors" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 3/29). Bookstore GM Amy Randolph said, "We had fans start lining up around 10:00am, with an expected shipment arrival of 2:30. There was a flight delay of course, and our shirts didn't actually show up until about 4:30. By that time, we had 600 people lined up outside the store, around the block. ... We rang about 3,500 shirts through our registers in just a couple hours." She said the store has sold "well over 20,000 shirts" since the start of the NCAA Tournament ("First Take," ESPN2, 3/29).

SECOND TIME IS THE CHARM: Meanwhile, Butler Univ. fans "descended on the Spirit Shop at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Monday to snap up Butler hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts, jerseys and all kinds of gear." Butler's bookstore "sold out of Final Four T-shirts by Monday afternoon" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 3/29).
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