In the past few weeks, Loyola University Chicago fans from all over the world have been purchasing maroon and gold merchandise to show their support for the men’s basketball team in its first March Madness run since 1985.
The team’s success in the first two rounds of the tournament has caused university bookstore merchandise sales to increase dramatically.
Mani Pillait, the store manager at the Lake Shore Campus bookstore, said sales in the past few weeks online and in stores are up 300 percent from what they were at this time last year.
“The last two weeks have been phenomenal in terms of the support from the Loyola community and staff and students alike,” Pillait said. “We are very pleased and thrilled for the Ramblers and for the university.”
The Ramblers have gained international attention due to their success. People from across the country and the world have purchased merchandise online.
“We have received online orders from all over the country and also internationally, so there is a really wide group of people who are interested,” Pillait said.
She said the victorious season has also brought a variety of people into the store.
“I think this winning season has brought out everybody,” Pillait said. “We have seen everybody from alumni, to students, to faculty, to staff, to people who live in the neighborhood who want to support the university.”
Pillait said that the atmosphere is different at the bookstore from its typical academic sales.
“It’s definitely more shopping in the front of the store versus in the back with the course materials,” Pillait said. “It’s a different kind of shopping that people are doing. It’s certainly not as intense. People are having a lot more fun because they are shopping for merchandise and for fun stuff to wear.”
The Lake Shore Campus bookstore has been advertising a sale where a $100 purchase will include a free Sweet 16 and Elite Eight beach towel.
Trevor Bunger, a first-year psychology major, said he bought five Loyola striped scarves and received a free towel.
“After the first win, when [Loyola] got into the top 32, my mom told me how the people online were joking about how the Loyola fans looked like Hogwarts students with their scarves on,” Bunger said. “After the Sweet 16 was [decided], I was like ‘OK, I need to make sure everyone gets scarves now. So I got a scarf for my mom, my grandma, my sister, my great-grandma and myself.’”
The scarves have become an emblem at Loyola, and have had to be reordered due to them selling out.
Bunger said Loyola’s newfound national attention is really special, and the scarves are an iconic part of that.
“It’s really cool seeing Loyola in this big spot on a national sports stage,” Bunger said.