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Thursday March 29, 2001

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Most UA-themed merchandise sold by off-campus vendors legit

Headline Photo

By Katie Clark

Arizona Daily Wildcat

T-shirts, hats official if they bear NCAA stickers

Off-campus sellers of Final Four T-shirts can offer a legitimate and less-expensive alternative to University of Arizona bookstores, vendors said.

"I know a couple of stands got shut down for not being licensed," said Mike Skwiat, an employee of Maverick Enterprises, a local company that sells sporting event merchandise.

Skwiat also said the off-campus vendors are looked at very carefully by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to make sure everything is legitimate.

"But it's good for us that they're checking, making sure that everything is legit. It makes us look good," he said.

Maverick employees have stationed their tent on the northeast corner of North Campbell Avenue and East Speedway Boulevard to sell merchandise for the duration of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Skwiat said that the sure-fire way to tell if the apparel is licensed is to see if it has the official NCAA holographic sticker on it.

"Every T-shirt, hat, whatever has to have one of these stickers on it," he said.

Skwiat said he did not know what percentage of the money generated by sales went back to the NCAA, but said it was probably "a couple bucks per sticker."

"They come by and make sure that we have the stickers on everything, insurance and permission from the people who own the property," he said.

People can buy shirts, hats, sweatshirts and other paraphernalia at the stand for less than what the ASUA Bookstore is charging.

"For the first couple of days, people were really excited because our shirts were so cheap," Skwiat said. "Everyone was trying to beat us."

Maverick sells all of their Final Four T-shirts for $16, while the bookstore sells them for a variety of prices, starting at $19.95.

Kathy Grogan, a clothing sales associate at ASUA bookstore, said she didn't know why prices at the bookstore were more than those at the stands.

"That's a good question," she said. "It might have to do with the companies that make the clothes."

Grogan did not know how much money generated by T-shirt sales goes back to the UA, but she said that since the bookstore is affiliated with ASUA, a majority of the money probably goes back to the university.

"The bookstore does charge more money," said Tom Keating, a retired UA alum. "But the revenue is more likely to help the university."

Keating bought two shirts from Maverick Enterprises yesterday, but only because the McKale souvenir shop was closed.

"I bought 10 from there the other day," he said.

But Skwiat is confident that people will still come to his tent to buy merchandise despite loyalty to UA bookstores.

"U of A is making plenty off the exact same thing we are," Skwiat said. "We decided to keep our prices low. We're just nicer, I guess."