By Michael Becker
During the last few years, the Butler men’s basketball team’s success has drawn its share of business to local restaurants and stores.
A majority of students, faculty, staff and alumni get their gear at the Butler Bookstore. The basketball season brings clusters of people out to equip their wardrobes for another season.
Bookstore manager Janine Frainier said basketball season is the busiest time of year. The success of the last two years have forced Frainier to expand the selection and variety so customers can constantly have more options.
“We have seen such an increase in traffic in the bookstore, especially with online orders [the last few years],” Frainier said. “We are building on a team that is already loved. Our goal is to make sure the students are as happy as we are.”
The Butler Bookstore has ordered 30 percent more merchandise this year compared to last, and fans are turning out in droves.
“We are packed an hour before every game, during the game and an hour after every game, along with the kiosk upstairs,” Shari Hagan, manager of the Spirit Shop in Hinkle Fieldhouse, said.
Businesses outside of Butler’s realm have also responded to the basketball success.
John Mybeck, CEO of Strategic Marketing Affiliates, Butler’s licensing agency, said many retailers have increased the number of Butler products that they offer year-round.
Places including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Finish Line, LIDS, Kohl’s, Old Navy, Kroger and CVS all began offering Butler sportswear for the first time in 2010.
Mybeck said approximate retail sales of Butler University licensed products increased by 55 percent from 2009 to 2010 when they amounted to $2.4 million in sales. 2011 brought even more staggering sales of about $8 million.
“The success that [Brad] Stevens and the Butler basketball program have achieved has been a big factor in the increase in demand for Butler licensed products both within the campus community and across the country,” Mybeck said.
Rob Sabatini, who owns Average Joe’s Sports Pub as well as the Mineshaft Saloon and Rock Lobster, said business stays booming year-round with football and basketball.
He said most of the excitement begins once the NFL ends, and the busiest time ever was during Butler’s Final Four game last year.
“We did not have any chairs or stools available in any of my three places,” Sabatini said. “When the tournament rolls around, we love when Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame play at different times. We can show and benefit from all the games.”