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Bookstore boasts impressive sales

Marcela Berrios | Friday, September 29, 2006

Football season comes every year to the Notre Dame Hammes Bookstore like Christmas to a toy store, as any item that could potentially have “Irish” printed on it makes its way to shelves, window displays and cash registers.

There is even Fighting Irish breakfast cereal for sale now – and judging from the waves of people that flock to campus every weekend during home football games, the Bookstore should have no problems selling its Notre Dame Wheaties.

“The excitement surrounding Notre Dame football brings more people to campus, and while they’re here the likelihood that they will pick up souvenirs for their families is very high,” said Sally Wiatrowski, director of the Bookstore.

While bound by her employment contract from discussing any specific sales figures, Wiatrowski did break into a smile when asked about the increase in profits observed during football weekends.

Irish fans never fail to purchase rally beads, blue and gold pom poms, leprechaun temporary tattoos and Notre Dame hooded sweatshirts.

The best-selling item before home games, however, continues to be “The Shirt” – more than 100,000 have been sold already, and the Bookstore recently restocked its supply of the navy blue T-shirts.

With seven home games scheduled this fall – one more than previous seasons – Wiatrowski suspects the demand for “The Shirt” will extend itself further into the year.

New items such as the Irish-inspired Wheaties have also found a market among fans of both Notre Dame and its rival teams.

“General Mills came to us with this idea,” Wiatrowski said. “I believe they also launched USC, Texas and Ohio State Wheaties, but we were the first university they contacted.”

The venture turned out to be a success, resulting in 12,000 boxes of Notre Dame Wheaties sold in a day and a half during the Michigan game weekend.

The Bookstore promptly ordered 15,000 more boxes to sell on Saturday.

“It’s a fun and unique item, and people seem happy to buy it,” Wiatrowski said.

They should be even happier to know that their Bookstore purchases help further Notre Dame’s academic mission, since a portion of the revenues are directed toward scholarship funds.

Luis Castañeda, a 1996 MBA graduate, brought his wife and young sons to South Bend this weekend for the Purdue game and to the Bookstore Thursday to contribute to those revenues.

“I came back from Mexico for the 10-year class reunion,” said Castañeda, as his youngest boy eyed the shirt emblazoned with the new Popeye-looking leprechaun. “It’s a dream come true to be here with my wife and kids.”

The Castañedas beat the lines expected to form this Saturday.

“Purdue is really a drive-in game for most people, so we don’t really expect the majority of fans to come in until Saturday morning,” Wiatrowski said.

When teams like USC come to South Bend from more distant places, fans also arrive earlier, and so the Bookstore traffic is heavy on Thursdays and Fridays and a little more relaxed during the hours before kickoff, Wiatrowski said.