LSU apparel retailers lament BCS loss, press on

LSU apparel retailers lament BCS loss, press on

LSU merchandise isn't exactly flying off the shelves following Monday's BCS beat down by Alabama, but local sports-apparel retailers say business is still rolling.

Academy Sports and Outdoors had planned to open all of its stores in Louisiana immediately following the game to sell commemorative apparel had LSU won, says spokesman Eric Herrera. Instead, "everything was sent back to the vendor (Nike) per our licensing agreement," he says.

Herrera says the fate of the apparel now rests with Nike. He declined to give potential sales figures, but says that "hundreds were in line waiting outside" for BCS championship gear at Academy's Alabama locations.

Having physical stock on hand was not a problem for local retailers and Bengals & Bandits.
"The beauty of the Internet is that we don't have to have it on-site to sell it. We didn't pre-print anything," says Jared Loftus, owner of online retailer "We're not in a position to eat any merchandise."

Loftus says his company had pre-printed merchandise for LSU's 2007 championship, which he admits "was a gamble." Loftus guesses that if the Tigers hadn't won in 2007, he would have donated the apparel to charity.

Loftus says this year's loss put a dent in his sales, given that LSU represents the largest share among all the universities his company sells merchandise for. "We were able to make it up a little on Alabama merchandise, but not enough," he says. "If LSU had won, it would have been much more fun around the city and it would have been much more profitable."

Bengals & Bandits owner Eric Hedrick says he also refrained from purchasing any LSU championship gear in advance, but had an order ready to go if LSU had won. He says the lopsided outcome of the game has noticeably reduced demand for BCS gameday T-shirts and apparel that features both LSU and Alabama.

"The fashion in which they lost definitely affects us," Hedrick says. "If they'd won, any leftover BCS gear would sell, but that stuff's on deep closeout." Still, he adds, the financial fallout is minimal. "We still have stuff we can sell."

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