Outside of the teams themselves, the biggest benefactors of a Spartan victory might just be the apparel shops along Grand River Avenue. And for the past 10 years or so business has boomed as MSU has piled up victories on the games’ brightest stages.
But after years of seemingly endless wins in basketball and a resurgence in football, the impact of extra revenue can be taken for granted. A year after an unexpected run to the Final Four which resulted in unanticipated revenue for East Lansing’s apparel shops, the shocking upset of MSU basketball last week has three shops finding ways to add the cash to the drawers they’ve been accustomed to.
“I would expect at least a 10 percent drop in business,” said manager of Campus Corner Chad Freehauf, compared to this time last year during MSU’s Final Four run. “I can’t put an exact figure on it, but we’ll definitely lose some.”
It’s a weird thing to think about, given MSU’s success through the past couple of years.
“We’re spoiled, we’re spoiled,” Freehauf said. “Especially with both teams doing well the past couple of years.”
For others like Mike Wylie, assistant manager at Student Book Store, or SBS, the wins through the years have been just an added bonus to an already solid business model.
“Did it affect our business? Absolutely, but you’ve got to take a long, long view of an excellent season,” Wylie said. “Both as business and as a community we benefit both from Michigan State and our sports program(s), so you have to take the good with the bad.”
SBS employees don’t see the loss as an anything other than unfortunate and view trips to the Final Four as something special, which can add money to the register at the end of day.
“Those are exceptional events and there’s no way you can make up for them,” Wylie said. “If you build your business model about always going to a Final Four, you need to reexamine your business model.”
However, Tom Tatum, a manager of Campus Street Sportswear, saw the loss as almost a sigh of relief for the business.
“I know sales were kind of huge last year but we’re also not bringing in a bunch of extra merchandise, so it’s actually letting us get rid of stuff that we’ve been trying to get rid for a while,” Tatum said. “So they’ll buy that instead of Final Four stuff.”
In terms of hurting the business however, Tatum mentioned he was uncertain whether or not a deep tournament run might have helped business.
“Yes and no,” Tatum said. “It all remains to be seen.”
Furthermore, Tatum said Campus Street Sportswear wasn’t planning to bring in a lot of Final Four merchandise if the team made it.
“We weren’t gonna go too crazy on it this year,” Tatum said. “It almost seems like it’s better when there’s staggering.”
Staggering meaning a once-every-so-many-years event, which would propel more people to buy when the rare event happens instead of repeated trips to the big stage.
Though basketball might have caused an unexpected loss in revenue, MSU football’s trip to the College Football Playoff added another element to the money picture.
For some it wasn’t worth it.
“No one seemed to want it,” Tatum said about the playoff gear at Campus Street Sportswear.
For others, it bolstered the money flow.
“Boosted business big time,” Freehauf said of the playoff.
But it wasn’t enough to make up for the money last year’s Final Four run generated, Freehauf said.
The businesses, however, will do their own things to offset the missed opportunity.
“Bringing in new merchandise and styles,” Freehauf said. “Freshen up our window displays, try to make everything look nice and new and hope for a good graduation.”