What’s in style at the Lope Shop? Think big
Editor’s note: Reprinted from the November 2021 issue of GCU Magazine. To view the digital version of the magazine, click here.
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Ralph Freso
Stuck on what to buy your favorite Lope for Christmas? The Lope Shop (lopeshops.gcu.edu) can do more than just help you give it the old college try with its full supply of retread threads.
“The older it looks, the more retro, that is what the kids are buying between graphic and garment,” said Shelly Schrimpf, Assistant Director of Campus Retail and Licensing. “I can bring in just a regular old T-shirt, but if I have a really great retro-looking graphic, like something you’d pull out of your dad’s closet, that’s the first thing that sells.”
Crop tops – basically, half-shirts – still are popular, but the new fashion trend for women is men’s or oversized women’s T-shirts that have been cut in half.
“It’s very much back to the ’90s, when everyone was wearing their husband’s or boyfriend’s T-shirts with biker shorts – that’s very much back in,” Schrimpf said.
The proof is right there on the shelves. Schrimpf orders more larges than smalls and still has trouble keeping enough larges and extra larges in stock.
Schrimpf has been sizing up trends in the industry for 20 years but relies on her assistant, Areina Wilson, and her nine student ambassador squad for advice about what college women want. She has learned that they know what they are talking about. For example, they told her that pants with different colored legs are in. The next day as she walked on campus, she spotted two women with that style. Not long after, she saw it again while shopping – only this time the woman’s sweatshirt also was one color on one side, another on the other.
“It’s the craziest thing, but it’s coming,” Schrimpf said. “Color block is very popular right now if done right.”
For the Lope Shop, that will mean purple and white. The most popular color in sweatshirts and sweatpants, though, is a 1950s-style sports oxford gray, and the hot brand is Champion.
“When you put that on the floor with something else, it’s 5 to 1 that they’ll buy the Champion,” said Schrimpf, who has found that she doesn’t need to order more than fiv basic styles.
“I’m a firm believer in basics,” she added. “I feel you need a basic sweatshirt that you’re never out of, a basic sweatpant that you’re never out of. I can be out of the fashion T-shirt because they’re still going to come in and buy our Herd Classics.”
The cool-weather clothes will come in handy this winter when students lounge outside, often in hammocks. “We’re selling hammocks like we never have before,” Schrimpf said. Same goes for Frisbees, Hydro Flasks and whatever else makes the Arizona weather that much more enjoyable while the rest of the nation freezes.
There IS one new trend that isn’t old school: More and more students on campus have a dog with them and want to get their pet in the proper GCU spirit. “Our pet stuff is out of control,” Schrimpf said.
Schrimpf’s dexterity in ordering the right items is evident in sales, which were up nearly 40% in July through September this year compared to the same span in 2019, before the pandemic, even though inventory is down 50% from two years ago.
“We’re bringing more stuff in more often and putting it out and selling it, putting it out and selling it, and putting it out and selling it,” said Andy Dunn, Director of Campus Retail and Licensing.
There are plenty of other GCU-related gifts available, such as the Canyon Worship 2021 album, produced by Worship Arts students. Still not sure? Canyon State Credit Union offers a GCU Gift Card that can be used at the campus coffee shop, GCBC, as well as any of the Canyon Enterprises – which include the Lope Shop.
One thing’s for sure: Schrimpf, with the help of Wilson and the ambassador squad, will keep looking for fashion trends. After all, many of her customers are students who will be on campus for four years.
“You’ve got to make sure that you’re always changing,” she said.
Even if the change takes you back to the good old days.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
Below are photos of more items available at lopeshops.gcu.edu.