Success of sports teams may impact EWU merchandise sales

By Elohino Theodore, Sports Writer

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Fan interest ultimately sways EWU merchandise sales depending on their interest in the sport teams.

According to Bob Anderson, the director of the university bookstore and PUB operations, there is a number one sport that has always helped the bookstore. “Football season has always been the biggest sales season for us,” Anderson said.

Associate athletic director for external affairs Ken Halpin explained how the football team made fans interested in buying EWU merchandise. “The revenue for licensing, which affects athletics, hit an all-time high in 2010 when we won the national title,” Halpin said.

Anderson mentions that the 2010 championship football team helped the bookstore expand their business. “One of the things that the 2010 championship did for us is it allowed us to buy from vendors that wouldn’t talk to us in the past,” Anderson said.

Now, Eastern is able to sell a wider range of products such as tents and fire pits.

Football has always been the best sport to encourage Eagle fans to buy EWU gear and souvenirs. However, there was a noticeable increase in sales when the EWU men’s basketball team had success in years past.

“We also had a spike in sales in 2004 when the men’s basketball team went to the NCAA tournament,” Anderson said.

Anderson also went on to explain that when a team does well in post-season play, it allows the bookstore to sell new merchandise. So when the men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA tournament, this allowed the bookstore to sell NCAA tournament items to celebrate the Eagles’ post-season success.

Halpin said that there are different ways of observing the increase of merchandise sales and EWU licensing, which is the sale of the university logo that always gets used for sports merchandise as well as other products.

“There’s different symptoms we can see, that show us licensing is increasing. Sales at the bookstore, the number of independent retailers that are popping up and obviously the revenue the school sees through licensing,” Halpin said.

Halpin also mentions that another way to observe the increase of sales is that Eastern invested in a second bookstore location at the football field during games. “So when you go to a football game, there’s the new inferno team shop.”

“We always had a tent presence from the bookstore at football games. Now there’s a physical building where they can even sell better stuff more formally, and that’s helped their sales go up,” Halpin said.

Halpin also states that the bookstore makes sure to set up merchandise at basketball games. Also, the school partners every holiday season with an outside establishment to set up a display in the River Park Square Mall in Spokane. The EWU bookstore website, http://bookstore.ewu.edu, provides an abundance of merchandise to buy online, ranging from clothing to cups, key chains to bags and more. This makes yet another outlet to sell merchandise.

According to Anderson, 2010 was the peak year for the amount of money the university bookstore earned in sales. “2010 was the first year we ever did over a million in sales in clothing,” Anderson said. He also mentions that in 2012, the bookstore sold the same record amount.

Anderson said that the first year he arrived at Eastern in 1995, the bookstore earned $78,000 in sales. Shortly after that, in the early millennium, sales jumped from $78,000 to between $700,000-$800,000 in sales. From 2000-2010, sales increases were gradual, ranging from 5 to 10 percent growth.

Anderson mentions that not only do wins and losses determine fan interest in buying merchandise, but also it depends on the type of sport.

According to Anderson, the spectator sports help the school sell the most merchandise. Sports like track and field do not attract that many fans; usually, friends and parents attend these sporting events.

Anderson said, “Overall sales of clothing and gift merchandise have certainly increased, anything using the Eastern logo. Some of that is athletics driven, a lot of it is also we’ve expanded greatly in the store.”

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