While students stared into Zoom classrooms wearing pajamas, their sense of school pride diminished with each passing online class. The school environment normally filled with pep rallies, after-school clubs, team sports, and academic programs was redesigned to a computer screen and a digital classroom. This season we’re expecting to see an overabundance of school pride to be at an all-time high. Students can’t wait to identify with their peers once again as the 2021 school year kicks off.
To help you take advantage of the season, here are some tips to maximize your school apparel orders.
Sports programs can be a huge boost to your sales in the fall, and many shops live and die by the season. Hoodies and Ts are staples, but you can increase sales to make 2021 your best year yet by adding a few more options.
Blankets: Customized blankets with team and player names are an amazing upsell. You can decorate them with simple digital decals or use screen printing or embroidery for embellishment. If you want the “wow” factor, look at some wonderful sublimation options. Offer blankets to a team as a fundraiser, and you might just have a home run on your hands.
Bleacher seats: Every fan sits to watch games. A handful of companies have fantastic products you can customize for super fans to take from game to game. Print a team logo on the front of these chairs, sell sponsorships and print those on the back. These could be huge fundraising opportunities for any organization, and they’ll save your butt from those hard cold bleachers.
Fan packs: Everyone loves a deal, and packaging up spiritwear is a perfect way to get a lot of products into the hands of fans. Bundle T-shirts, hoods, water bottles, lanyards, noisemakers, temporary tattoos, etc. Present them in a cool spirit box and offer them at a premium.
Teams: Athletes love gear just like everyone else. But don’t settle for a simple cotton T or hoodie when you offer them gear. Lean into performance apparel and outfits. Offer the whole ensemble: custom slides, team backpacks, quarter-zip hoodies, matching shorts, custom socks, training Ts, team hoodies, and jackets. Bundle it all together. This is branding — getting the athletes on board to look good off the field and play well on the field.
Welcome back to school
This is where your school mom, PTO, booster president, or principal can really get you in the door. After a year where kids attended digital classrooms in their pajamas, 2021 should be the call back to school pride. While kids felt isolated and alone last year, let this be the year of community and inclusion.
Student packs: Wrap your students in school pride. Show them see how much you missed them last year. Let them know that they belong to the school community. Offer back-to-school bundles and include some items that kids love. Offer Ts, hoods, water bottles, masks, and car decals for mom and dad. Add some promo items like customized hand sanitizer, notebooks, frisbees, or old-school lunchboxes. Make them feel like school is fun again and that they belong.
Great staff have school pride too
Don’t let anyone fool you. All teachers missed their students last year, and even if they disagreed on policies, the one thing they all had in common was that they wanted the best for their students. That sometimes proved divisive.
It’s a new year, and believe it or not, teachers have school pride too. Not just on the special jean day Friday. They have it all the time. As a professional, teachers are a little more business casual so instead of offering Ts and hoodies to staff for Friday, think five days a week. Add polo shirts, quarter zips, softshell jackets, wovens in school colors. Load their closest up with gear. Once they get enough gear, that’s when you lean into the promos like laser-engraved tumblers, computer cases, notebooks, lunch bags, or totes. Teachers have just as much pride as the students, so don’t forget them.
Clubs and activities
Too many times, I hear of shops that only print for the school football teams or basketball teams. Sports teams are great, but there are a lot of clubs in schools that are worth exploring. E-Sports, math, fishing, sciences, art, debate, and leadership clubs are everywhere, and just because they don’t score touchdowns doesn’t mean they don’t want to be identified around their peers. What do clubs want? They want the same things that the football team wants, except you don’t have five print shops fighting over them.
Make it easy
If COVID-19 has taught customers anything, it’s that they’d rather shop local, but they’d also like to shop from home. If you haven’t found a platform for you to sell your school spirit apparel online, you needed to do that yesterday. Don’t let any sticker shock scare you away from these platforms. Selling online is the way to go — for now and the future. Get online and get going.
Put 2020 in the rearview mirror and finish your 2021 strong. School pride is back, and it’s up to you to decorate it!