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There were no more University of Kentucky T-shirts available by late Tuesday morning at Belk in Towne Mall in Elizabethtown.
The store opened at 8 a.m. the day after the Wildcats program won its eighth NCAA men’s basketball championship, the first since since 1998, with adult-sized T-shirts set up on tables where shoppers easily could grab them.
About 30 shoppers were waiting when the doors opened two hours earlier than usual. The 144 shirts were gone and 140 shoppers had preordered incoming shirts by 11 a.m. from five shipments expected to be delivered today and Thursday, store manager Theresa Meacham said.
“Within minutes, they were gone. It was amazing,” she said. “I knew we had some die-hard Kentucky fans here, but nothing like this. It was like the day after Thanksgiving.”
UK-themed clothing for juniors, ceramic UK logo cups and other items showing support for the team sold well Tuesday. The store brought in about $3,000 before it would be open on an ordinary day, Meacham said.
“For us, just a small store, that’s a huge impact,” she said.
T-shirts with only UK and shirts with UK and the University of Louisville featured on them also sold well leading to the teams’ Final Four matchup.
The six Belk stores throughout the state and www.belk.com bet on UK for a championship win in a bigger way than a bracket pick. The stores ordered $40,000 in UK merchandise to be sold if the team took the title.
Selling so much merchandise featuring the team is good for business, Meacham said.
“It’s definitely important,” she said. “That’s a big leap for our store. That’s a lot of money coming to us.”
The local Belk store plans a large remodel in June that might include setting up a larger space to sell sports merchandise, especially UK-themed items.
Walmart in Radcliff also has sold several UK items, especially as the team prepared to compete in the Final Four and championship games.
Managers there expected a boom in the sale of such items and set up a UK Corner where customers could find key chains, flags, T-shirts and other merchandise associated with the team. All such items have sold well.
Managers stocked up on UK-themed items before the win and so far have kept up with demand.
Lois Yates, manager of the store’s jewelry department, said UK jewelry is selling well. This is the first time she remembers the store selling rings, necklaces and other jewelry associated with the team.
Besides being good for business, UK’s win pleased Yates because she’s a fan of the team.
“I’m really glad that UK won,” she said.
The dedication Greg Owens of Borden, Ind., has for UK is one of the reasons he sold championship shirts featuring the team on the side of North Dixie Avenue in Elizabethtown.
He started with about 100 shirts and had few left after the lunch rush.
Owens said his buyers were excited about the team’s win and eager to show their support.
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or email@example.com.