Can apparel increase participation in your programs? At the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), intramural championship teams receive a T-shirt for this reason.
“We give them to the championship teams in hopes we can increase participation numbers because they want a free shirt,” said Jenny Knejfl, the coordinator of competitive sports and camps at UAB.
Intramural sports will also wear jerseys during games, and club sports rock apparel for tournaments and games as well. Plus, apparel is used as a fundraising tool for the clubs.
Brett Ford, the assistant director of competitive sports at the University of Northern Colorado, said apparel only makes an appearance in certain club fundraising strategies. “Those are done through Victory Sales or Eastbay, as we have to use university-approved vendors,” he explained.
In terms of apparel choice and what type they use, Ford doesn’t make that decision. “It’s up to the club members, usually based on what they think will create a demand and raise the most funds,” he said.
Beyond clubs, Henry Knejfl, the assistant director of marketing and membership at UAB, said they carry apparel brands like Under Armour, Champion and Russell Athletics in their pro shop to offer a range of apparel for every budget. They also have $15 T-shirts with UAB’s logo for those who might have forgotten a shirt for their workout, one kind of shorts for each gender and a few different hats.
But, the best part is the pro shop works with the university’s book store. “We have a deal with them that we can purchase any of their items at a 20% discount,” said Henry. “We resell for the ticketed price. It helps us with inventory control, plus we don’t have to compete with them.”
Should they have any T-shirts left over at the end of a semester, they can sell them back to the book store. “They credit us the amount toward new merchandise,” said Henry.
Jenny said with intramurals, they have a tight budget and must stick to the bare minimums for the championship shirts. “We also have to get several quotes from vendors and purchase the cheapest option,” she said. “Clubs receive very little funding, so most of their apparel purchases come out of their own pocket or from fundraisers.”
Graphics are done in house, and they look for quality/comfort in the apparel they purchase.
Henry said their goal with the apparel in the pro shop is simply to offer convenience, not necessarily make a profit, hence the small markup. “Instead of turning them away to go back home and grab their forgotten T-shirt, or sending them across the street to buy a T-shirt from the book store, we offer them the same option as the book store at the same price without leaving the facility,” he explained.
In fact, they have tried creating their own apparel in the past. But it wasn’t their core competency, so they stopped.
Ultimately, figure out what your students want by getting their feedback. “Are shirts the best selling apparel, or would they like to see shorts, towels, jerseys, etc.?” said Jenny. “This may help with fundraising and selling more products if there is a variety of apparel rather than just shirts.”