Ever wonder how sports teams get their victory apparel just seconds after the game? Susan Griffin, director of the Xavier Bookstore, has the answer in four words: “hot market item vendors.” She’s sitting in her office on a warm spring afternoon, minutes after the basketball team left for Atlanta, and she’s surrounded by overflowing boxes of Xavier gear. A pair of pink plaid Xavier pyjama bottoms hang from a bookshelf next to three Xavier garden gnomes to be saved, a note says, for John Hensley.
“If you think your team is going to make it,” Griffin says, “you start ordering two months ago.”
Fortunately for Griffin, Xavier has some experience in the NCAA playoffs. (This is Xavier’s 11th NCAA appearance in the last 12 years.) The Bookstore had their March Madness designs locked up and approved weeks ago, and with the help of hot market item vendors like Gear for Sports and Blue 84, they can be rapidly printed and FedExed to the Bookstore. (Their FedEx guy is a fan, Griffin says, and he gets their orders to them as quickly as possible.)
Hundreds of the Sweet Sixteen shirts were flying off the shelves at the Bookstore Wednesday afternoon. “That’s why we’re here,” says Chris Geiger, a 1974 MBA graduate and season ticket holder since the Schmidt Fieldhouse days. Geiger is picking up a shirt with his 15-year-old son Alex to wear on Friday. There aren’t many sizes left to choose from.
Smalls have gone fast this year, Griffin says, but two more shipments on Thursday and Friday will replenish the stocks. In the meantime, Griffin is packing up boxes of shirts, pom poms, spirit beads, hats and other items to drive down to Atlanta on Thursday. She’ll have the Xavier gear on hand to sell at the pre-game alumni event. Joining Griffin on the journey down south will be D’Artagnome, the footloose gnome whose adventures are ably chronicled on the Bookstore’s Facebook page.
Griffin expects even higher demand for Xavier gear if the team makes the Elite Eight, and trembles to think of a Final Four possibility, when thousands of hot market items will be ordered from Nike and other vendors. “The excitement builds,” she says. “People want everything. Part of me is really nervous. I’m excited, really. It’s going to be really hard, but a really good thing to live through–if you live through it!”
As the madness ensues, the Prayer of Serenity sits on Griffin’s desk. It’s there all the time, she says, “but it does help this time of year.”