It’s been 21 years since Philadelphia’s La Salle University last qualified for the NCAA basketball tournament, but they certainly know how to make a comeback. Knocking off Boise State in the first round, then upsetting fourth-seeded Kansas State, the upstart Explorers went on to beat Mississippi to land a place in the coveted Sweet Sixteen. Since that victory, sales at the on-campus bookstore have gone through the roof.
“Sales of our March Madness merchandise were pretty brisk,” recounts La Salle University Bookstore Manager Mark Allan. “But since we made it into the Sweet Sixteen, sales in the store and on our website have been absolutely crazy.”
The bookstore, managed by Barnes & Noble College since 1998, quickly sold out of over 650 March Madness shirts. And when the team advanced to the next round, sales of Sweet Sixteen merchandise positively blew up. “We added extra hours of service because of the high demand for La Salle merchandise,” Allan explains. “We also brought in extra staff from neighboring Barnes & Noble College stores to help us ring up sales, process online orders and stock the floor. We sold out of 1,200 Sweet Sixteen graphic t-shirts and we have another order of 1,200 coming in before tomorrow’s game,” adding confidently, “When we win on Thursday, we’ll order even more!”
The University was set to close on Friday for Easter Break, but decided to allow students to stay on campus to rally behind their team and celebrate together. The campus bookstore will remain open, as well, supporting the Alumni Association’s Pregame Gathering and Watch Party in the Dan Rodden Theatre as La Salle faces 9th seed Wichita State. “Our store is right next to the theater, but we’re also going to bring the store to the fans,” says Allan. “We’re prepared for Thursday’s game – it’s going to be a thrilling night. The theater will be a sea of blue and gold.”
Allan has resigned himself to little sleep, working around the clock to keep up with the demand for La Salle merchandise, but his fatigue hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for what’s happening on campus.
“The excitement has been awesome and the bookstore has been an absolute madhouse with students, faculty, alumni – and even other area schools – packing every square inch of store,” explains Allan. “But it’s been an exciting problem to have. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”