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Thursday June 8th

'This is just a blessing': NCAA Tournament gives Tar Heel apparel stores sales boost

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In celebration of the North Carolina men’s basketball team’s monumental NCAA Tournament run, fans flocked to Franklin Street to buy UNC gear to remember the March Madness victories.

Businesses like the Shrunken Head Boutique, Underground Printing and Chapel Hill Sportswear experienced an increase in merchandise sales as UNC progressed in the NCAA Tournament.

“In the three years that I have been here, it is the busiest we have ever been,” Ellianna Tickle, store manager at Underground Printing, said.

She added that as soon as Underground Printing received Final Four merchandise from its printer, the store was full of fans. Since the Sweet 16, Tickle estimated about 1,000 shirts have been sold.

Although Shrunken Head, a UNC merchandise store that’s been on Franklin Street since 1969, has been closed since December 2021 due to flooding damage, it has also experienced a high volume of online and pick-up orders thanks to North Carolina's tournament run.

“Immediately after we won the game against St. Peter's, we hopped on our website, and we saw much more volume than it typically is during the week,” Melissa Pate, Shrunken Head’s store manager and granddaughter of the shop's founders, said.

Shrunken Head also held pop-up tables over the weekend and on Monday around Chapel Hill to help remind people that they are still in operation even though they do not have a storefront to sell merchandise.

“It’s great to see a lot of people order for local pick-up from outside the store, which helped make up for some of the business we lost from being closed as well as a ton of people who ordered from us online,” Alana Loken, brand manager at Shrunken Head, said. 

Loken said Shrunken Head sold over 1,000 shirts since the Sweet 16.

Holly Dedmond, the store manager at Chapel Hill Sportswear, said the 2022 NCAA Tournament has been the busiest March Madness they have had in years. The store did not even have time to count how many shirts they ordered before they put them out on the floor.

“After the last two years with COVID and students not being on campus and not having fans in the stands for football and basketball, this is just a blessing,” Dedmond said.

This is the first time current students saw UNC go to the national championship game since 2017.

“I just want to get some Final Four stuff, maybe some national championship bound stuff, to celebrate,” UNC senior Kaley Johannes said.

With different T-shirt designs and other memorabilia, Tar Heel fans could find a variety of items along Franklin Street to commemorate the historic UNC tournament run.

“It’s nice if one store doesn't have something, you know you can find it elsewhere,” UNC alumna Molly McConnell said.

The men's basketball team's March Madness run contributed to a recent boom in businesses focused on UNC attire — a boom that is much needed as business owners attempt to recover from the pandemic.

"This school year, having students back on campus and in classes — that has really helped business," Dedmond said.

And now, the high number of people on Franklin Street with the tournament has helped bring revenue to stores.

"Business has exploded this last week with the Final Four," Dedmond said.


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