Retailers order SEC merchandise after Missouri announces move

Monday, November 7, 2011 | 5:10 p.m. CST; updated 11:50 p.m. CST, Monday, November 7, 2011
Barbara Rodriguez browses for MU apparel on Monday at Jock's Nitch Locker Room on Ninth Street. Rodriguez and her husband were visiting from St. Louis to see their daughter who is in school here.

COLUMBIA — The miniature helmets that feature Big 12 teams are gone and so are the T-shirts.

"If we had them, they would go on clearance," said Brent Willenburg, a manager at MC Sports.

Willenburg said the store purposely stopped ordering Big 12 items in anticipation of the Nov. 6th announcement that Missouri would join the Southeastern Conference on July 1, 2012.

Retailers of Missouri and SEC merchandise must now consider if and when to change their product lines.

Although MC Sports has few Big 12 items left, Willenburg said he anticipates the store will get customers looking for old conference memorabilia.

But fans in search of new SEC memorabilia won't have much luck either. MC Sports has not yet received any orders for SEC products.

"It's in the works with our buyer," Willenburg said.

He said the store might expand its assortment of merchandise to include Missouri's new opponents — such as Alabama and Florida — to appeal to traveling fans.

The morning after the announcement, Derek Garrett, manager of Jock's Nitch Locker Room in Columbia, ordered 144 SEC T-shirts. He said the order would allow the store to feel out the market.

Garrett said the store had placed another order for SEC T-shirts in advance of the annoucement, but the printers were still finalizing plans on their end. He hopes to get one of the shipments in this week.

Overall, Garrett said, "It's not gonna change what stuff we get in here."

Michelle Dillard, owner of Tiger Spirit, said one person stopped by Monday looking for SEC merchandise, but she hasn't determined whether to carry SEC T-shirts. Previously, the store only carried two items with Big 12 logos on them. She said the store will probably start by offering one style of SEC T-shirt and wait to see what other vendors offer. She anticipates the store will carry a broader selection after MU joins the new conference.

The SEC move will also have an impact on international companies. Fanatics, an online retailer of life and sports merchandise, will also be making some changes to its product line and website.

Brian Swallow, Fanatics' vice president of sales and marketing, said from a retail perspective, the change creates a new market. He said the excitement of Missouri fans will translate to more sales.

"We have some housekeeping to do on the SEC site," Swallow said. Starting in July, the company will include Missouri on the SEC store's website. Also, they will have to buy or produce cross-licensed SEC/Mizzou branded products. The company hopes to offer new Missouri products on the Fanatics website sometime next month.

Swallow predicts that there will be a "fantastic" market for selling new SEC products to Missouri fans because of their excitement to join the storied conference.

"I think Missouri fans will gobble that up," Swallow said.

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