A spot in the NCAA college basketball tournament not only creates excitement on campus; it also brings fans into the campus bookstore for school and NCAA gear.
This year, Ohio State, the University of Louisville and Indiana University have all made it to the Sweet Sixteen – and the emblematic wear is flying off the shelves. To gain national attention, a team needs to make the tournament’s third round, known as the Sweet Sixteen. And, should these teams advance to the Elite Eight and to the Final Four, their bookstores have a number of tournament designs ready to push out.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” said Joe Bender, manager of the Indiana University Bloomington Bookstore. “The campus has been electrified ever since we beat number-one ranked Kentucky back in December. So, the entire school is looking forward to the rematch on Friday.”
Barnes & Noble has the mechanisms and infrastructure in place to produce large quantities of Indiana and NCAA merchandise on a moment’s notice. The top selling t-shirt from December was “Beat Kentucky” and this week, Bender anticipates the “Beat Kentucky, Again” t-shirt will be a top seller.
“If win” orders for Ohio State, Louisville and Indiana have all been developed and ready to go should any of the teams advance to the Elite Eight and Final Four. These orders include the graphics, quantities and logistics for getting items into the store and online as quickly as possible. That means that within an hour of a team winning, their fans can go online and begin ordering shirts.
“Our ‘if win’ orders are already in place, so if we continue to advance, we’re ready to go,” said Bender. “We watch our online orders and store merchandise throughout the day so our current inventory is always stocked and we are ready to add to that should we continue to win.”
Like Indiana, Ohio State is used to making it into the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes are one of only two teams to make an NCAA tournament appearance every decade since the 1930s. With the school on spring break, the campus is quiet, but it won’t stay that way for long.
“We’re looking forward to beating Cincinnati and making it to the Final Four,” said Kathy Smith, manager of the Ohio State Main University Bookstore. “That is when the real excitement will begin. Students will be back on campus for the beginning of the spring quarter and we’ll be in the middle of spring rush, but we’ll be ready with our Buckeye and NCAA merchandise.”
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), one of the biggest underdog stories in recent years, saw an unprecedented demand for VCU and NCAA tournament gear after last year’s March Madness, when the 11th-seeded team reached the Final Four. Barnes & Noble produced large supplies of VCU Final Four merchandise on a moment’s notice, resulting in record-breaking sales at the bookstore.
Our retailing expertise allows us to capitalize on a team’s tournament and championship successes. Literally seconds after the end of a tournament, we update our product selection online to reflect a school’s win and begin fulfilling orders in a matter of hours. This “just-in-time response” is largely the result of the outstanding long-term relationships we have with our athletic departments and our trusted providers, including Champion, Nike and Adidas.
The Sweet Sixteen tournament games will be played this Thursday and Friday.
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