Florida universities consistently place high in merchandise sales.
A great year for the Gators and school merchandise sales.
[Photo: Ray Carson - UF News Bureau]
The University of Florida's twin national championships in basketball and football will only enhance the school's dominance of licensed memorabilia sales among state schools.
Annual sales for college-themed merchandise -- everything from T-shirts to dog collars and pool cues -- total $2.9 billion, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. For most products, schools earn 8.5% of the wholesale cost. Additionally, schools can earn 15% for championship or bowl game merchandise. For the 2005-06 fiscal year, UF's cut amounted to some $3.2 million, which doesn't include the football team's national championship, says Debbie Gay, UF's licensing manager.
The heady year on the court and field means UF's 2006-07 fiscal year numbers should be even higher. But while winning typically boosts sales, statistics compiled by the Collegiate Licensing Co. show that all of the state's major schools sell well, even when the teams aren't winning national titles. From 2000 to 2006, for example, the Gators have never fallen below ninth in national sales rankings. Sales of Florida State and University of Miami gear have trailed slightly but have always been in the top 20. "Schools like UF, FSU and UM have a national following," says Derek Hughes, a spokesman for Collegiate Licensing, the nation's largest collegiate trademark company. "Those schools generate a lot of passion."
Hughes notes that two other Florida schools -- the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida -- are rising in national sales rankings thanks to growing football programs: "They're both top-70 schools, which is pretty impressive considering they really haven't been in the licensing game that long."
Retailers all over Florida are happy in any event. "We can't even answer our phones we're so busy," says Maggie Sloat, who, along with her husband, Harold, owns Gator Haven in St. Petersburg.
At Bill's Bookstore in Tallahassee, there's next year. "We had a slight drop-off, and you can probably attribute that to us not winning the ACC like we usually do," says Eric Nelson, the bookstore's marketing manager and merchandise buyer. "But, next year, if the team turns it around, we'll be on top again."