DeKALB – Boxes cluttered the Village Commons Bookstore as employees were stocking for one of the busiest times in recent memory.
Box after box had Orange Bowl merchandise anticipating the Northern Illinois University football team’s big game Jan. 1.
“Every couple of days, we’ve [run] out of something,” said Jody Boardman, bookstore general manager. “We’re trying to keep up with it.”
The merchandise has been flying off the shelves, both in local bookstores and online.
The Village Commons Bookstore increased hours for some employees, Boardman said. Six people work in the clothing department, including NIU senior Megan Corneille.
“It’s fast-paced. It makes the day go by faster, but it’s exciting,” said Corneille, who is planning to drive to Miami with her friends in a recreational vehicle for the game.
The NIU University Bookstore also has seen an increase in activity by three to four times, said manager Don Turk. Internet sales are five to six times higher than what is normal for this time of year.
“We have [online] orders from all over the country,” he said. “I stopped counting once we hit 30 states.”
The University Bookstore received orders of Orange Bowl gear Dec. 12, about five days later than they expected, Turk said. There were problems with licensing, but no one informed the bookstore for about five or six days, he said.
Boardman said the most popular shirt the Village Commons Bookstore sells is a T-shirt that reads, “Orange Here We Come.”
The shirt sold out at the store, but Boardman said it is reordering items. They will come in before the bowl game.
Fanatics.com, which sells gear for more than 500 colleges and universities, has posted some big numbers for NIU.
NIU merchandise for this football season is up 197 percent from last season on Fanatics.com. For December, the school is up 348 percent, the highest percentage increase among all colleges on the website.
The University Bookstore has placed a conditional order for shirts that read, “NIU Orange Bowl Champs.” The store will be refunded if NIU loses the game against Florida State University.
Boardman said the Village Commons Bookstore might sell new products once it gets closer to the bowl game, but “that will be determined when we can breathe,” she said.