STATE COLLEGE — Downtown retailers are hoping to cash in on merchandise featuring the Nittany Lions’ newest coach, James Franklin.
On Tuesday morning, at least two East College Avenue shops received shipments of the latest fan attire.
Retailers, which recently liquidated “Billieve” and “O’Brien’s Lions” merchandise for former coach Bill O’Brien, who left to coach the NFL’s Houston Texans, are hoping the Franklin-themed attire will boost sales.
“We think it’s going to get a really positive response,” said Caroline Gummo, advertising manager for The Family Clothesline. “We’ve had people out there looking for some new merchandise and got lot of inquiries about it.”
Penn State student Rodney Prince was one of the first to buy a shirt supporting the new coach.
“Any time I can support my team, then I’m going to get whatever shirts I can that help do that,” Prince said. “I have high hopes for him. I think all the hype he’s getting now will help out with a good season next year.”
Another student and Nittany Lions fan, Jordan Chambers, also decided to buy a Franklin shirt.
“I’m going to need something to replace my ‘O’Brien’s Lions’ shirt, so why not get one that implies James Franklin?” Chambers said.
The Family Clothesline still has merchandise targeted toward O’Brien, and Gummo said there is a very small demand for it. Right now though, she said the store is trying to get those items off its shelves to make room for new items.
Gummo said the store took to social media along with a team of employees who helped brainstorm ideas for slogans that target Franklin.
“As soon as we heard of the new coach, we started thinking of new ideas. We didn’t wait,” Gummo said. “He said ‘dominate the state’ a bunch of times, and we think that’s a phrase that really captures him, so we ran with it.”
In Franklin’s press conference last week, he mentioned numerous times how he would “dominate the state” in terms of recruiting Pennsylvanians to the Nittany Lions program.
The Family Clothesline advertised on Facebook and asked its fans for input. That’s where “Franklion” came in, Gummo said.
“Our Facebook fans were really helpful with ideas,” Gummo said.
The same went for Lions Pride, 112 E. College Ave. Management used social media to generate ideas.
Manager Steve Moyer said on Tuesday morning, the store got in a shipment of “Dominate the State” T-shirts as well.
The store also is working on a second design that has been driven by its Facebook fans. Moyer said the store might use Franklin’s comment that he’s “a Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart,” but change “boy” to “kid.”
“They’re selling so far, and we’re thinking of new things,” Moyer said. “We’re excited to have him here.”
Lions Pride also is looking into making sweatshirts and women’s V-neck shirts with Franklin phrases, and Gummo added that as long as there is a high demand for the new merchandise, the store will expand its Franklin gear as well.
“These T-shirts are a little bit of a test run to see how they sell, then we can look at expanding,” Gummo said. “From a business standpoint, we’re excited to have him and anxious for next season.”
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.