Rivalries affect wallets as well as school spirit.
Organizations that sell anti-Duke merchandise have seen significant increases in sales as the Tar Heels prepares to play the Blue Devils in basketball this Saturday.
T-shirts with slightly controversial slogans in reference to the UNC vs. Duke rivalry like the Thrill City’s “we grew here, you flew here,” and Carolina Athletic Association’s “we’re better” have been selling in large amounts.
Thrill City sold out 100 of their shirts soon after their release. The image of the t-shirt design was shared on Facebook more than 550 times, and the shirt has already been backordered.
“I had no idea it would be such a big deal,” said Ryan Cocca, owner and co-founder of Thrill City.
Cocca acknowledged the strangeness of the phenomenon. “You’d think the shirts wouldn’t be as popular because the event only happens twice a year,” he said.
“I guess it’s just more fun for people.”
The response from out-of-state students, however, has been mixed, said Cocca.
“Some don’t think it’s funny,” he said, “but some are like ‘I’m from New Jersey and I’m buying this shirt.”
The CAA almost sold out of all of their t-shirts, with orders amounting to approximately 500.
CAA president Johnathan Flynn attributes the increase in sales to the shirts’ rivalrous message.
“The shirt makes a statement all in itself,” he said, “It’s almost passive aggressive in a way, because it’s not outwardly offensive.”
In general, the outcome of basketball seasons has a strong effect on sales, said John Gorsuch, director of Student Stores.
He also said there is an obvious difference in sales when it comes to the rivalries UNC has with North Carolina State and Duke.
“We sold a nice number of ‘beat State’ shirts, but nothing close to the ‘beat Duke’ one,” he said, “Doesn’t even kind of come close.”
Rivalries, Cocca concluded, are incredibly profitable.
“My friend was joking with me that you could just make a business based on the rivalry,” he said, “He was kidding, but almost not really.”
“People react strongly because it’s an easy thing for people to get behind. It’s another way for UNC to hate on Duke big time.”
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