By Adam Ganucheau/NEMS Daily Journal
As Mississippi State’s baseball team has made its trek toward a national championship, Northeast Mississippi retailers said sales of College World Series merchandise have taken off.
Bulldog fans across the region have flocked to stores to buys shirts, caps and buttons commemorating the team’s historic run in Omaha.
“We have had many people come buy College World Series merchandise,” said Sherry Neal, manager of The Lodge in Starkville. “We have been very overwhelmed by what the team has been doing. We have had to order multiple shipments of shirts.”
The Lodge carries seven different T-shirt designs, as well as commemorative caps and buttons – all of which have sold very well, according to Neal.
In Tupelo, Reed’s department store on Main Street has seen above-average sales on their three different designs of College World Series T-shirts and have ordered a second shipment of shirts.
“There have only been two events that we’ve seen higher merchandise sales: when Mississippi State made the Final Four in 1996 and when Ole Miss made their first Cotton Bowl with Eli,” said Jack Reed Jr., who’s also wrapping up his term as the city’s mayor. “I expect the sales to come close to those two events if State keeps on winning in Omaha, and certainly if they win it all.”
But not all shirts are created equal.
A photo of a T-shirt at a souvenir stand in Omaha went viral because it had “Mississippi State Rebels” printed on it. It was quickly pulled, and it can’t be found on the shelves of any local retailers. Reed emphasized the importance of selling only NCAA-licensed merchandise.
“We order our shirts very carefully,” he said. “We only buy our merchandise from licensed dealers.”
Hibbett Sports in The Mall at Barnes Crossing is carrying a black and neon College World Series shirt, and the store is on its second shipment as well.
“As long as State keeps winning, people will keep buying (the shirts),” Hibbett employee Colby Padgett said. “A lot of people want the regular gray College World Series shirts, but they are happy just to buy anything that has the State logo and College World Series logo on it.”
Dick’s Sporting Goods in the mall does not currently have any College World Series merchandise, and employees say they have gotten dozens of calls from curious customers.
“This is a special time for Mississippi State fans,” Reed said. “Just making Omaha is a big deal, so fans can wear these shirts proudly forever.”