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Volume 21 No. 2
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CLC ‘out to tackle any new areas of retail that we can find’ with expanded line of products

New or expanded lines of college products are showing up in places you’d never expect.

Boots sporting a school’s logo are being sold in western wear retailers. Licensed sunglasses are in Sunglass Hut stores all over the country. Logo pacifiers can be found in Babies “R” Us.

Even on the computer, virtual goods with college marks are appearing on social networking and gaming sites. These are all new distribution outlets for college merchandise this fall.

“We’re trying to turn over every rock we can,” said Dave Kirkpatrick, vice president of non-apparel marketing for Collegiate Licensing Co. “College is a unique marketplace. It’s sold to all income levels, all ethnic backgrounds and across any retail segment that’s out there. Our goal is to tackle any new areas of retail that we can find.”

CLC, an IMG College company, is the nation’s top

New frontiers: Work wear, boots and Pillow Pets
college licensing agent, representing close to 200 universities, conferences and bowl games in the $4.3 billion college licensing business. The line of products that CLC is licensing has grown into categories where colleges had little or no presence until recently.

The first college-licensed boots debuted in 2009 with just three Texas schools. There will be more than 40 schools by year’s end.

Maui Jim is predicting that more than 60,000 college-licensed sunglasses, priced from $169 to $179, will be sold this year, its first year in the market.

Farming and ranch retailers like Tractor Supply represent another new distribution outlet for CLC, which licensed Dri Duck’s line of work and outdoor wear.

“These are exciting new opportunities for us,” said Kirkpatrick, who added that CLC also is targeting grocery stores and home improvement retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s.

And like any product maker or licensor, there’s also a strong push with Wal-Mart. The retail giant has long been a home for college apparel, but the company now appears to be going deeper with its licensed offerings to include more non-apparel items in its more than 1,400 stores. CLC’s goal is to more than double the amount of non-apparel items being sold in Wal-Mart in the next three years.

Fabrique, maker of the Snuggie, is out with the college-licensed Pillow Pet for $30 in Wal-Mart, JCPenney and other major retailers. The stuffed animal-shaped pillows are available in 55 school colors.

Whether Pillow Pets become the next fad remains to be seen, but fads can be a lucrative line of business for college licensees. Fads — products that are hot sellers for roughly six months or so — account for 15 percent of non-apparel business in the college market. Bobbleheads were a great-selling fad, and Silly Bandz were on fire for about six months last year.

Pillow Pets are off to a strong sales start, Kirkpatrick said, and the plush category, which includes stuffed animals, stuffed mascots, fuzzy footballs and other soft items, is coming alive “after being dormant for a few years,” he said.