Gift shop cuts back on Eagle inventory

With the board of trustees' two decisions to postpone the final word on the athletic nickname issue, the Golden Eagle gift shop prepared for an unpredictable school year.

As of March 1, the store decided to purchase sports clothing and paraphernalia without any mention of the Golden Eagles.

The store made the switch to neutral T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, caps and other forms of merchandise because the staff does not know whether the board will revert to the Warriors nickname or keep Golden Eagles. The board is expected to vote on the issue at its May 4 meeting.

"We have no idea what's going to happen," said Jim Graebert, director of the gift shop.

Lindsey Swanson, Golden Eagle student manager and College of Health Sciences sophomore, said the delay seems like the board members are "buying their time."

According to Graebert, the average retailer has to order items six to nine months in advance. The Golden Eagle usually orders in bulk, buying about six dozen or more of one item, which means writing on the clothes must be known in advance so the shop will not lose any money on out-of-date merchandise.

The March 1 order is for merchandise scheduled to appear in the Golden Eagle in fall 2005.

The order should arrive at the university in July, about one month after the board is expected to discuss the nickname issue further.

Graebert worked at Marquette in 1994 when the school first introduced the Golden Eagles mascot.

The ordering process was conducted differently then because there was no lag time, Graebert said. During the end of the 1993-'94 school year, the gift shop stopped ordering Warriors gear to prepare for the decision.

In July 1994, the new mascot and logo were unveiled allowing the store to start ordering Golden Eagles merchandise right away.

The merchandise ordering process is still further complicated.

The retailer must consult with its supply companies in advance. Depending on the size of the company, it may be harder to change the design of some items once they are already in the production stage, Graebert said.

For example, Nike, one of the biggest contributors to the Golden Eagle, starts printing gear earlier than some of the other suppliers, like Champion.

The decision to sell neutral sports gear may be a complex one for the gift shop, but one student said he will not change his mind about shopping there.

"I'll still go there," said Jason Rotzenberg, College of Business Administration sophomore.

He said some alumni may feel differently, however.

"Usually some person will be affected," Rotzenberg said. "If they'll be offended, they won't shop there anymore."

Graebert said he cannot speak on what will happen to the name of the gift shop if the board decides to return to the Warriors.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on April 12 2005.