Shops sport school spirit

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By Erik Allgood

As many local businesses prepare for Homecoming, most of them are bracing for a surge in business this weekend.

Gameday Sprit, on Green Street in Champaign, sells Illini merchandise year-round and experiences a significant increase in sales during Homecoming. Cory Shumard, the store’s manager, said Homecoming is easily among the store’s top five best-selling weekends.

“The great thing about Homecoming is that regardless of how the team is doing that year, students and alumni will come in here and support the business,” Shumard said.

Other stores see a difference as well.

“There are certainly a lot more people on campus this weekend and it’s not just students,” said Steve Mesker, the manager at Follett’s Bookstore on Wright Street in Champaign. “A lot of people from the University of Illinois Alumni Association come back for the game and many of them come to the store because they remember it and buy something.”

This year, the University has taken an increased interest in supporting the football team after the Illini did well last year.

“There is a concentrated effort to make sure that come game time on Saturday, there is a ‘Zook Zone’ towel in every hand,” Shumard said.

The effects of Homecoming are not felt at every store though. The Quad Shop, located in the Union, does not experience as much of a difference in business.

“During Homecoming week there are a lot of giveaways around campus and people don’t come in for convenience items as much,” said Jim Trail, manager of the Quad Shop.

Mesker said that in order to meet increased demand for Illini gear, Follett’s has moved a lot of current stock to clearance and increasing their stock of high-demand items. The store, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary, will be holding a series of giveaways as well as decorating the store with orange and blue banners.

“Homecoming is a real fun day to work, especially when we’re winning.” Mesker said.