OHIO STATE PRODUCTS The new color of money: scarlet and gray



By VERONICA GORLEY
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Even tortilla chips are wearing scarlet and gray nowadays.
Ohio State colors have appeared on bags of Tostitos chips, mugs, apparel, car flags and other souvenirs since the football team defeated Miami during the Fiesta Bowl on Jan 3.
When the game ended, local residents immediately started shelling out for Ohio State National Championship gear, and they haven't stopped yet, local retailers say.
"We're still printing," said Ron Fox, owner of Eagle Wear in Hubbard. "I think it'll sell all the way until next season. I mean, it's been 30-some years since the last time [Ohio State won a national football title]."
Swamped
Fox, who supplies 20 local retailers with the Ohio State gear, said he's been swamped all week. Customers can't get enough merchandise of the team led by former Youngstown State University coach Jim Tressel.
"As soon as the game was over with, there were people from my front counter lined up out the front door waiting for stuff," Fox said. "People must've come right over from the bars."
And people don't want the regular Ohio State University shirts. They want the ones that read "National Champions" on them, said David Collins, senior department manager of the Southern Park Mall J.C. Penney's men's division.
"They want the championship stuff," he said.
T-shirt
On Jan. 4, more than 50 people lined up in J.C. Penney to buy the Nike locker room T-shirt worn by players on the field, Collins said. The merchandise hit the floor at 4 p.m., and 330 were sold by the end of the night, he said.
"We've seen triple-digit gains over last year," Collins said. "We're looking at 150 pieces a day easily. People in this area have a lot of connections to Ohio State."
Ohio State children's apparel is also popular, he said. And men aren't the only ones buying.
"A lot of women are buying it," Collins said. "I don't know if they're buying it for themselves or their husbands."
Giant Eagle
The Churchill Commons Giant Eagle in Liberty doesn't usually offer Ohio State merchandise, said Roger Blackstone, store director. This year was an exception.
"We certainly did it this year because of Jim Tressel and his reputation in the area," Blackstone said. "We don't have very much left."
But shipments keep coming. Another one bringing gray National Champions sweat shirts, mugs and Sports Illustrated magazines arrived Friday.
"We had a beautiful rug that you'd drape over a banister, and they went really quick," he said. "We tried to reorder those, but we couldn't, unfortunately."
Giant Eagle cashier Lakeshia Boykin, 23, has watched the product disappear as soon as it hits the display table.
"Every time they come past here, they stop and they look," she said.
Champ's
National Champions shirts were delivered to Champ's Sports in the Eastwood Mall the day after the Buckeyes won, said Barry Kaiser, store manager. They were gone in two hours.
"Once the team does well, it makes everyone happy, and they're willing to spend," Kaiser said. "Once a team is hot, their product really sells."

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