MSU’s victory over LSU boosts merchandise sales

At around 6:30 p.m. Saturday night, what had been low expectations for the state of Mississippi suddenly flew away.

And we’re not just talking about what happened on the field, where Mississippi State had just picked up a stunning 44-34 victory over LSU National Champion, sixth and defending National Champion, on his own turf. during Mike Leach’s debut as an MSU coach.

“I would definitely say Mike Leach saved football and these local businesses too,” said Alex Gomez as he assessed the weekend sales for Maroon & Co., which specializes in MSU-themed merchandise. .

“We get notifications on our phones when someone purchases something online,” said Gomez, store manager. “As soon as the game was over, it was ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching. I think we had about 5,000-6,000 sales that night, well over double what we normally get after a game.

With COVID-19 casting a shadow over the season – ultimately resulting in a 10-game schedule with five home games, all capped at 25% capacity – Starkville businesses that cater to Saturday football crowds had turned out to be prepared for a significant drop in sales in area stores, restaurants and hotels.

And while MSU’s conquest of LSU didn’t significantly help the hotel or restaurant industry, it did have MSU’s merchandise fly off the shelves, with retailers now struggling to fill orders online as well.

“We’re slammed,” said Sharon Neal, manager of The Lodge, a longtime favorite shopping stop for all things Bulldogs. “Right now we are trying to place all the orders. We have 60 orders that we are trying to fill at the moment.

T-shirts commemorating the victory went into production on Saturday night and were in stores Sunday afternoon, but there was a run on all manner of MSU equipment.

“We can’t keep anything with a pirate on the shelf, really,” Gomez said.

The pirate motif is Leach’s unofficial trademark when he used it as a metaphor for life in his 2011 biography, “Swing Your Sword: Leading the Charge in Football and in Life.”

When Leach signed a $ 5 million per year contract to become MSU’s trainer in January, pirate-themed products with MSU’s colors and logo became big sellers.

A second wave of pirate-themed MSU gear appears to have been triggered with Saturday’s victory, thanks to an MSU-produced video released Monday morning.

In this video, Leach, perched on top of a wagon adorned with a large pirate flag (with the MSU logo on the eye patch of the skull image), says: “Looking for a train in walk ? Jump on.”

The video went viral hours after it was released on Monday morning, which Cheyenne Tucker, who works as a sales assistant at Campus Bookmart, quickly found out.

“We had about 20 of these pirate flags in stock,” Tucker said. “We might sell one or two a day. It was the craziest thing. We sold what we had in stock in maybe an hour and a half and we have probably 250 more orders today. He just came out of nowhere.

Campus Bookmart manager Stan Raye said the Bulldogs’ victory over LSU was certainly a boost.

“Home games are always very good for us, but with 25% capacity (for home game attendance) we knew business wouldn’t be the way it normally is,” said Raye. “We haven’t had our first home game yet, so what’s happened at LSU has really been a boost.”

MSU’s first game is Saturday night against Arkansas.

Slim Smith is a feature film columnist and writer for The Dispatch. His e-mail address is [email protected]