When Georgia was putting the finishing touches on its first national football championship in 41 years Monday evening, Laura Beaghan joined many longtime Bulldogs fans in shedding a few joyous tears.
“We cried after the end of the game because we’ve been Bulldogs fans our whole lives,” said Beaghan. “We were all in tears and then we said, ‘Oh wait. We’ve got to get to work now.’”
For local merchants like Beaghan – who with her husband Kyle owns and operates University Spirit on Baxter Street – Monday’s excitement is continuing unabated as they cash in with folks willing to part with their hard-earned money on Georgia Bulldogs swag.
“It’s very exciting,” said Beaghan, whose parents Rick and Lesley Maggiore opened University Spirit in 1975, on Wednesday morning. “Today is our big day because we’ve overnighted everything from Nike and Champion and 47Brand and we have everything from ornaments to glassware. We’ve been working for the last three weeks on our preorders and we have everything on our website.”
The family’s other business, The Clubhouse (located on College Avenue downtown), also enjoyed a steady stream of patrons on Tuesday and Wednesday, with an even bigger crowd expected Saturday. The Clubhouse is owned by Beaghan’s sister Lisa Royals and her husband Thomas.
“What we love is that so many people want to support local businesses,” said Beaghan. “I know Dick’s Sporting Goods and Academy Sports have been slammed, but there’s still a part of this community that wants to support local business and we have felt that and we are so appreciative.
“Even if we didn’t have shirts people wanted on the first day, they understood and said they’d come back because they wanted to support the folks have been here over the last five decades. That part has been very humbling.”
Scott Towe at The Red Zone on Clayton Street downtown echoed those grateful sentiments.
“It makes us feel great,” he said Wednesday. “We’re well-established and have been doing this a long time. We create relationships with people and you just can’t get that online. And you can come in, talk to other people, watch highlights on the television and be in a real place. Supporting local business is what keeps our local economy going and it keeps us going and we appreciate all that.”
Howard Taylor is no stranger to national championship merchandising. As the southeast group vice president for Follett (which operates the UGA Bookstore in the shadow of Sanford Stadium), he’s overseen the sales of plenty of t-shirts and other items when national titles were won at Florida and Florida State, among others. And on Wednesday morning, he and his crew were preparing to open some 375 cartons of goodies to immediately place on the bookstore sales floor.
“(On Tuesday) we only had five items to sell, including the shirt and hat the players were wearing on the field Monday night. We took a risk on those and made those in advance and they would have been destroyed if Georgia didn’t win…At the end of the day, we had a few shirts left.”
Taylor, who is in charge of some 225 stores (including Athens Technical College, Georgia State and Savannah College of Art & Design), said the items available include just about anything one can imagine.
“We’ve got coins by the Highland Mint, all kinds of Christmas ornaments and bag tags; we’ve got Polos and hats, mugs, towels, license plate frames, coasters, car flags, shot glasses, pint glasses, right down the list. The vendors are coming out of the woodwork to make this happen for us.”
Follett is also keeping things local by selling shirts made by Athens-based New World Graphics.
There figures to be a run on all things Georgia, and it figures to have some staying power. Taylor said that a lot of folks would be doing what he called “revenge shopping” to make up for the dearth of opportunities to even see the Bulldogs in the COVID-dosed 2020 season, when Georgia played but four home games and had limited capacity in the stands.
“This started for us in April when we had the spring game, then graduation, then orientation, then full-bore classes start, then a full season of games,” he said. “People have been revenge shopping all year. Sales were through the roof as it was and then throw in the SEC East championship, the Orange Bowl and now this. It’s been a pretty exciting time – revenge shopping quadrupled
In terms of the staying power of this merchandising boom, Taylor said, “By my calculation, we’ve got about 362 days where we’ll still be good. I might be off a day though. This is what we call ‘having legs.’”
“I think it will sustain,” said Towe. “It will go on into the summer and there will be one more big party when we gather for the first game in the fall. We’ve been so close so many times and people have been waiting so long. There’s been a lot of buildup. Alabama has won so many championships that I think it’s probably an ‘Oh well, we did it again’ kind of thing, but here in Athens, it’s red-hot intensity.”
This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Georgia football championship merchandise helping Athens shop
Source : https://news.yahoo.com/local-merchandise-shops-reaping-benefits-111504415.html1081