The University of Central Florida’s (UCF) football team made school history earlier this month by defeating Baylor 52-42 at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, marking the team’s first-ever Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game win. But this outcome wasn’t just a huge upset for college sports – it also had the potential to turn UCF’s campus stores upside down with demand for championship merchandise. As students and other fans reveled in the win, it quickly became all-hands-on-deck for the staff at UCF’s campus stores.
With the game lasting until 1 a.m., the phones at UCF’s campus stores began ringing off the hook first thing the next morning. Before long, people began filing into the stores looking for the winning shirt. While multiple championship shirts were available, everyone clamored for the ‘Good Knight’ shirt that players were wearing when they accepted their trophy. Because shirts weren’t available in-store yet – it had only been eight hours since the game ended – fans were directed to the website to place their orders. Within two days, the online department had received over 500 orders for the coveted shirt – and demand only grew as the week progressed. In fact, there were so many orders for the shirt that one week later, not a single shirt made it to the sales floor – all had been spoken for.
“There have been so many online orders for the ‘Good Knight’ shirt that every shipment we’ve received has gone toward fulfilling those online orders,” said Melissa Martin, store manager at the UCF Spirit Shop. Within a day and a half, all of the other championship merchandise that was available in the UCF Spirit Shop had sold out completely. Sales were in the thousands of dollars.
UCF pride could be felt all over campus. Standing outside of the Barnes & Noble at UCF Bookstore, junior communication sciences and disorders major Felix Guerrero expressed his excitement over what the win meant for the school. “Winning the Fiesta Bowl was huge for our school,” he said. “We were the youngest school ever to play in a BCS bowl, and to win the game means a lot for our program. It puts UCF on the map and is a huge recruitment tool.”
When the athletics department announced they would hold a pep rally to celebrate the big win, Martin and the rest of the campus store staff were tasked with a new challenge: only two days to stock as much championship merchandise as possible to have on-hand at the spirited event. With help from Barnes & Noble College’s home office, Martin was able to have additional merchandise shipped over night and ready to go in time for the rally.
On Wednesday, students, alumni and other fans began lining up at 3 p.m. for the celebration, hoping to be among the first 250 to be let in at 5:30 p.m. to take photos with the team and trophy. Attendance at the event exceeded expectations, with over 7,000 people attending the rally, resulting in a second day of phenomenal sales at the UCF Spirit Shop.
“It was truly impressive to see the number of fans who showed up to celebrate – and not just students, but alumni, too,” said Martin. “This was the team’s first BCS Bowl win, and we’re excited to have been able to help the campus community celebrate and show off the school pride we’re all feeling!”