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Local retailers cash in on championship gear

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BATON ROUGE - A week removed from LSU's title game victory over Clemson, retailers like Bengals and Bandits are still seeing championship merchandise fly off store shelves.
"It's definitely not a normal January," Patrick Wilson of Bengals and Bandits said. "We've been busy, very busy in-store and online."
The rush to get the gear ready for fans started well before LSU players hoisted the championship trophy.
"I watched the first quarter of the game on my phone in the office working," Wilkerson said. "I watched the last quarter, getting ready for the launch, on my phone."
The store was established just off campus in 2010. This year's post-national championship run is something it's never seen. 
"So we had that 2011 national championship game run," Wilkerson said. "Obviously that didn't go in our favor, so that changed a bit. We had seen impacted sales from that, but this year is a totally different animal."
2019 will be the shop's best year for sales, thanks in part to LSU playing well past the regular season and into the new year, capping it off with a championship. Wilkerson says this month will also be record-breaking.
"Based on the first couple of weeks, I mean it's definitely going to be double-digit growth compared to what a traditional January would be."
It isn't just retailers seeing money roll in. The university is also set to rake in cash thanks to national championship gear. LSU collects royalties on all merchandise sold. After its two previous championships following the 2003 and 2007 seasons, the university generated roughly $1,000,000 in royalties collected from title gear each year. In 2020, the school hopes to not only meet, but exceed that mark. 
"From a brand perspective, we're at an all-time high," LSU marketing professor Tommy Karam said.
In addition to making money, Karam says the exposure the university and its brand has received thanks to the football team's run is immeasurable. 
"I can't imagine any advertising campaign that could even come close to the exposure that LSU has had these past few weeks," Karam said. 
The good news for retailers like Bengals and Bandits, it doesn't appear this wave of profitability will end anytime soon.
"We fully expect to carry and sell national championship product into next season," Wilkerson said.
"This is just the beginning," Karam said. "I think this is going to have a long shelf life. As the next season, 2020 starts, I think you're going to see, not at this high a level, I think you'll see a continuation."

LSU expects to have the final numbers for championship gear royalties in April. After certain fees are deducted, the remaining money will be split evenly between the athletic's department and the university's general fund.


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