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After Gonzaga’s loss, T-Shirts switch headlines

UPDATED: Mon., April 3, 2017, 10:48 p.m.

Amanda Egland, left, and Chellsea Williams of Lewiston check out a Gonzaga shirt for sale on Friday in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Amanda Egland, left, and Chellsea Williams of Lewiston check out a Gonzaga shirt for sale on Friday in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

At Dick’s Sporting Goods anxious staff gathered around the TVs to take in Monday’s thrilling NCAA National Championship game.

Anticipating a rush of happy fans from nearby restaurants as soon as the game ended, workers decorated the store with balloons. Mannequins stood ready to don T-shirts heralding the Bulldogs as best in the nation.

But the Zags lost. And the boxes of championship T-shirts never left the storage-area where they’d sat all day.

“All that folding for nothing,” quipped one of the clerks, as extra staff quickly regrouped and got ready to head home.

The Zag Shop on the GU campus also had to keep its stash of championship T-shirts packed away.

In the Spokane Valley Industrial Park, Zome Design had a crew ready to turn out a mountain of black championship T-shirts overnight. The licensed apparel producer planned to have 5,000 to 7,000 shirts done by 6 a.m. Tuesday, sales manager Zane Troester said early Monday.

But alas.

“We figured everyone needed a little breather after that game,” Troester said over the phone Monday evening. “It was so close. They were 20 seconds away from winning. It was tough.”

If the Bulldogs had won, Troester anticipated producing close to 30,000 pieces of apparel cranking out hats, polo shirts, hooded sweatshirts, jackets, jerseys, youth and infant apparel celebrating what would have been a historic victory for GU.

“Now we are changing plans. We will come up with a very cool T-shirt to commemorate the entire season instead,” Troester said.

Zome, which also made the popular Top Dog shirts when the team first was ranked No. 1 in early February, will supply Gonzaga apparel to many area stores, including Albertsons, Safeway, Rosauers, Yoke’s Fresh Market and Cenex Zip Trip, as well as some smaller stores like Clark’s All Sports in Colville.

Retailers had pre-ordered over $100,000 of merchandise, Troester said early Monday. He emphasized the local economic impact of the merchandise Zome produces.

“I think we’re the only Eastern Washington/Spokane company that’s actually doing it,” Troester said. “There are other companies that will have things flown in on airplanes, like you see those tents popping up all over town. … We’re the home team, so to speak.”

Merchandise produced in advance won’t necessarily go to waste. Dick’s, for example, has plans to ship all of the shirts to an organization that donates them for relief efforts overseas.

Though sales may not be as hot as he hoped for, Troester was upbeat Monday evening.

“It’s been a wonderful season; how can you not commemorate an achievement like that,” he said. “Everyone should be overjoyed with the result we got tonight. Go Zags!”

Business Editor Scott Maben contributed to this story.

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