COLUMBIA - Standing in the middle of the packed University Bookstore, freshman Josh Stegall, 18, waits to buy a gold Mizzou T-shirt. Stegall said he plans to attend the Missouri vs. Illinois Gold Rush game in St. Louis on Saturday and needs a gold shirt to support the team.
The sales of gold T-shirts in Columbia have spiked in the weeks leading up to the first football game as the MU Athletic Department encourages fans to wear gold to all football games this season, with the exception of the Blackout game Nov. 8.
After the success of last year's MU football team, Michelle Froese, public relations manager for MU's Student and Auxiliary Services, said the University Bookstore and Tiger Team Store increased their stock in core items, especially after selling out of gold shirts last year. Core items include Mizzou T-shirts that sell for $9.99.
Last year, according to Froese, $9.99 shirts were the biggest sellers, with tens of thousands of them flying off the shelves. Sales increased by 17 percent from the previous year, thanks to the success of the football team, she said.
This year, the store has ordered even more of the $9.99 Mizzou T-shirts and already is seeing an increase in online sales.
Froese said she is excited about the upcoming football season because it is beneficial to sales at the bookstore, as well as to Columbia itself.
"Last year was positive and good for the university," Froese said.
Carrie Bergfield, general merchandise manager of the University Bookstore, also has noticed the rising sales of gold-colored apparel. She estimates that in August, out of the 5,500 T-shirts sold, 2,000 of them were gold.
"We've run out of Gold Rush shirts a couple of times," Julie Arndt, a bookstore employee, said.
Arndt expects the bookstore to be much busier with the Gold Rush game approaching.
The bookstore isn't the only business in town selling more gold merchandise; stores such as Tiger Spirit, located at 111 S. Ninth St., also are noticing the popularity of the color. Employee Liz Kraftor said she has seen a marked increase in gold shirt sales, and the store has even run out of certain items.
Michelle Dillard, co-owner of Tiger Spirit, confirmed that she is selling more gold apparel, mainly T-shirts, golf shirts and hats.
The bookstore has completely gone through its stock of basic T-shirts this week, Bergfield said, but it is replenishing that stock in preparation for Saturday's game.
The official Gold Rush shirt costs $20 and can be pre-ordered online or bought at the University Bookstore or at Tiger Team Store.
"We're ready and we've got stuff to sell," Bergfield said.