Getting it in gear
Although sales of Penn State merchandise have dropped nationally – likely as a result of the Jerry Sandusky scandal – area merchants seem to be holding their own.
From July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013, the biggest slide in merchandise royalties was Penn State, which dropped from 10th to 12th last year and fell seven more spots this year to No. 19, according to Collegiate Licensing Co.
However, sales of football merchandise at the Student Book Store, 330 E. College Ave., State College, have been better than last year.
“I can’t really put my finger on exactly why that is. Given the circumstances, the football program had a fairly successful season, and I think in general the fan base has been pretty understanding and very supportive of the program during these less-than-ideal times,” said John Lindo, general manager. “Fans are buying football merchandise [along with other Penn State items], and the atmosphere this fall on football weekends was pretty good. I have a sense that fans are starting to look forward to the future of the program and trying not to dwell as much on the sanctions.”
Jeff Beach, manager of Shenk and Tittle in the Logan Valley Mall, said he has been seeing a demand for PSU jerseys.
“My jersey sales are better than I expected. We have three – [No. 14, quarterback Christian] Hackenberg, [No. 8, wide receiver Allen] Robinson and [No. 28, running back Zach] Zwinak. Zwinak has been the most popular. They are $95 a pop, better than I expected,” Beach said.
Sales have been strong at Kozee’s Emporium in both the Logan Valley Mall and Nittany Mall.
“It seems like everything is going pretty well because of [coach Bill] O’Brien’s leadership and the way he has handled things. We sell a lot of O’Brien stuff,” owner Steve Kozak said. “Overall, our Penn State sales have been up over the last two years. Our Penn State sales are better than our Steelers sales.”
Although sales are going OK, not having a bowl game can hurt business, said Jennifer Schoch, manager at McLanahan’s Penn State Room, 414 E. College Ave., State College.
“I’ve been here for 23 years. When Penn State went to the Rose Bowl, sales went out the wazoo. T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and all kinds of stuff. We try to market what people will buy. If they go to a smaller bowl game, we don’t get that much. So if they are in a smaller bowl game, it doesn’t make much difference,” Schoch said.
“It certainly hasn’t helped,” Beach said. “If I had a bowl shirt, I could sell more. It is like a month’s worth of sales I don’t have.
“We are selling things for gifts. Overall, it has been pretty good, but apparel sales such as T-shirts and sweatshirts are slower than I expected,” he said.
Caroline Gummo, advertising manager for The Family Clothesline, 352 E. College Ave., State College, agrees.
“December is tough for us because of the lack of a bowl game. There is not a lot of excitement since the season ended. We see the impact in December specifically,” Gummo said.
McLanahan’s continues to carry some Joe Paterno merchandise, including wooden signs with a picture of Joe and his quotes, which are quite popular, Gummo said.
The opening of the Pegula Ice Arena has sparked an interest in hockey merchandise, and with Penn State seeking its fourth consecutive NCAA wrestling championship, wrestling items are popular, as well.
“We have a full line of hockey stuff with Hockey Valley. These have been real popular. How long it continues to be popular, time will tell. We have seen hockey sales increase,” Gummo said. “Wrestling items are also popular. But nothing impacts sales like a bowl game. That is where we are taking the hit.”
“Hockey and wrestling have really helped with sales, as well. Fan interest in hockey merchandise over the past few months has been terrific,” Lindo said.