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A missed revenue opportunity

Monday, Apr 27, 2015

* This kinda burns me up a little

A Southeast High School Spartans hooded sweatshirt retails for $26.99 at the Walgreens at Fifth Street and South Grand Avenue.

Also for sale is a Southeast performance T-shirt for $16.99, a Springfield High School hooded sweatshirt for $26.99 and a Springfield High regular T-shirt for $12.99.

There’s nothing stopping Walgreens, or any other store in town, from selling Springfield School District apparel, School Superintendent Jennifer Gill told school board members last week.

There’s also nothing in writing ensuring that the district, individual schools or booster clubs get a cut of the profits made off apparel sold by retailers, she said.

What the heck, man? Why isn’t the IHSA all over this? And why would stores rip off schools like that?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

44 Comments
  1. - Anonin' - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:30 pm:

    Cause ISHA is gettin’ their end?


  2. - MrJM - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:31 pm:

    “And why would stores rip off schools like that?”

    Ripping off schools is a very popular trend in Illinois.

    – MrJM


  3. - Skeptic - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:34 pm:

    I agree, Rich. Considering that whole blow-up (oops, no pun intended) about sports photos a few years ago, you’d think the IHSA would be on full alert.


  4. - bored now - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:34 pm:

    isha has tons of problems. this would be very low on the list.

    btw, as near as i can tell, many of these problems arise out of the sheer number of high school districts in illinois. it might be less of a problem if, say, there were only 101 or 102 school districts in the state…


  5. - D.P.Gumby - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:37 pm:

    Are we sure one of Brucie’s companies isn’t involved??


  6. - VanillaMan - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:38 pm:

    “At the corner of Happy and Stealthy!”


  7. - A guy - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:41 pm:

    Licensing is not a cheap process. Better be enough upside to make it worth it. If they did, Walgreens would probably drop it. Prices already seem too high to me.
    Not to mention that the IHSA also has many parochial programs participating. My guess is that those programs wouldn’t participate in a group effort.

    Walgreens could voluntarily throw some dough their way. Someone in that district might just want to/need to ask them to.


  8. - Tough Guy - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:46 pm:

    I’ve seen Walmart do the same thing in other towns with the local school’s logo.


  9. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:48 pm:

    The merchandise is also crappy. Most high schoolers wouldn’t wear it on a dare.

    The local Carholic high school as an “exclusive” with one local supplier. Better stuff at similar prices and the school benefits as well.


  10. - CLJ - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:50 pm:

    1. Why in the world would anyone buy a high school sweatshirt or t-shirt at Walgreens, CVS etc?

    2. If the school’s are not selling their own merchandise, then that’s their own missed opportunity.

    Several years ago, the Tribune had a e-commerce site where you could create clothing for every high school in Illinois. It is where I was able to design my own Southeast High School Skateboarding Team t-shirt. It was rad. I’m pretty sure my alma mater didn’t get a cut on the profits from that either.


  11. - Kaner - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:52 pm:

    Not an IHSA issue. They can only get proceeds from apparel that has an IHSA logo or an affiliated tournament. Individual districts would own the rights to the images of their mascots and names, so the school boards would have to file for some type of copyright/license infringement. That’s if the images and names of public entities are protected at all.


  12. - NIU Grad - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:52 pm:

    This is normal in most towns, especially if the high school isn’t selling quality apparel. Jewel and Wal-Mart do this as well. Also, high schools usually contract their apparel with companies that sell them at overpriced rates as the sole monopoly.


  13. - frustrated GOP - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 2:59 pm:

    A school just needs to copywrite the logo and then enforce it. most mascots and logo are stock items, so there is no extra cost when the school uses it for uniforms and other stuff. But if they think they will sell enough, they need to copy write it. They pay a little extra when they buy stuff. It would make a great art competition too, if done right. BTW, it won’t stop the selling of the old stuff.


  14. - Educated in the Suburbs - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:00 pm:

    Also a not-insignificant number of Illinois high schools have logos or mascots that trademark infringe either colleges or nearby corporations. While most corporations and colleges overlook it, if they start making licensing deals with OTHER big corporations to sell the infringing logo, it’s going to get messy quick.


  15. - Bogey Golfer - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:03 pm:

    So you’d rather see official licensed apparel contracts be required with all the schools so they get a piece of the action. Don’t think Nike or Adidas will be entering into an agreement with Watseka anytime soon.


  16. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:05 pm:

    ===So you’d rather see official licensed apparel contracts be required===

    I so love it when commenters attempt to put words in my mouth.


  17. - anon - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:06 pm:

    Maybe the local Walgreen stores offer employment opportunities to high school kids.

    Stores in Springfield sold high school shirts and sweatshirts 40-50 years ago. This is far from some recent development.


  18. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:07 pm:

    Don’t think Nike or Adidas will be entering into an agreement with Watseka anytime soon.

    Can’t wait to buy a pair of those $200 Air Iroquois BB shoes!


  19. - Norseman - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:08 pm:

    === There’s nothing stopping Walgreens, or any other store in town, from selling Springfield School District apparel, School Superintendent Jennifer Gill told school board members last week. ===

    There is nothing stopping Gill or someone from her staff asking these businesses for some revenue from these sales. There may be no legal obligation, but a store may want to consider the appearance to the community if they’re making money of school named apparel and not giving anything to the schools.

    I can’t believe we’re talking about a lot of money. I was a treasurer of a school sports booster club and we didn’t get a huge profit from the sale of apparel.


  20. - Formerpol - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:08 pm:

    Schools need to trademark their logos and name. Then they could stop or license stores who sell unauthorized items. Towns should do likewise.
    May be difficult to trademark a town name; but it’s worth a try. Some law firm could make $$ agreeing to do this work.


  21. - Commander Norton - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:09 pm:

    The schools in Springfield do sell their own apparel that looks a lot better than the Walgreens versions. Still, it should be possible to shame the company into giving the District some sort of cut. We have a lot of businesses that generously support the public schools; it certainly isn’t enough to make up for the lack of state support, but Walgreen’s needs to be guilt-tripped into getting on the train!


  22. - anon - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:19 pm:

    When letter jackets were really popular, who do you think sold them? Department stores, not the schools. Why would a school want to inventory these items and provide staff for a small profit when school districts have no money as it is.


  23. - Former State Employee II - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:20 pm:

    CVS in River Forest sells Elmwood Park High School gear and the EPHS boosters get a very small cut from it.


  24. - Harry - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:26 pm:

    If the school district trademarked the name and it’s enforceable, they should be able to seek redress from either the manufacturer or retailer. If they didn’t, and this has been going on a long time, they may have forfeited their rights–that’s why firms defend trademark and copyright so strenuously


  25. - JS Mill - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:27 pm:

    School names etc. are not the property of the IHSA. They only own the “state series” and they have copy righted that. Any apparel related to the state series can only be produced by a company with an IHSA licensing agreement.

    In general, schools are owned by the public and thus are public domain. No one has to license the name of their local school to re-produce their apparel for sale. For individual schools the market is not huge and they usually turn over the process to boosters or a single company for simplicity sake.

    I don’t mind local businesses getting into the act if it helps their bottom line. They support us (locally) with tax dollars and donations. Here, in small town USA, it is a good symbiotic relationship and we love to see our apparel out there for school spirit’s sake.


  26. - Wensicia - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:28 pm:

    This is not unusual; stores like Walgreens and Jewel sell shirts and hoodies representing more the one high school where I live, often at cheaper prices.

    These same stores, as well as other businesses, often sponsor events at our schools and will employ our special ed students as part of their “School to Work” training programs. That’s a decent tradeoff.


  27. - Stones - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:30 pm:

    The Walgreens across the street from our local HS does the same thing. I think it’s common practice.


  28. - Team Sleep - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:31 pm:

    I was at the Walgreen’s at the corner of Monroe and Lawrence and that location had both bleacher and lawn chairs for New Berlin and Pleasant Plains. The stand-alone chairs were $45! Both of the Springfield area Schnuck’s sell high school apparel as well.


  29. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:33 pm:

    Hey, WALGREENS - BeTrue To Your Schools 🎵🎶


  30. - NIU Grad - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:37 pm:

    If anything, I’d say this is a good thing. It ensures that community members can buy apparel representing their local school/team. For example, I live in DeKalb and didn’t graduate from DeKalb High School, but consider their football team to be one of the stronger ways to connect with the community. Also, having a market compete for better apparel prices seems to be working better than a school district creating a monopoly with an overpriced apparel company. I’m sure if the schools sold apparel and said that proceeds go into a District Foundation, many parents would opt for that.


  31. - Responsa - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 3:38 pm:

    Thank you for your comment, Wensicia. Yes. You can always buy a school spirit shirt or hoodie cheaper at Jewel or Walgreens than at an in-school kiosk or stand. What may look to many here like only a few dollars of difference in price can make a big impact in many students’ or families budgets.


  32. - plutocrat03 - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 5:20 pm:

    Don’t think you can copyright a public logo or symbol.

    Is it the right thing to do to rebate something back to the schools, you bet.

    Is there a legal requirement?, not so much.


  33. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 5:22 pm:

    It’s been decades since I’ve been in HS, but I know the Oak Lawn Spartans ripped off every single logo from Michigan they could, back in the day. I can’t see them worrying too much about copyright infringement on the stuff they stole elsewhere.


  34. - Lefty Lefty - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 5:37 pm:

    MrJM’s comment has me reaching for the “thumbs up” feature that was here for about 5 minutes during the ill-fated redesign of the site. +1


  35. - Levois - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 5:58 pm:

    There goes my idea to have apparel made for my old high school GO FALCONS!


  36. - CPS - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 6:16 pm:

    Stores in Chicago don’t do this…I guess there are too many schools for them to handle! LOL!


  37. - Michael Westen - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 7:47 pm:

    Maybe Dick Durbin could write a threatening letter to the CEO.


  38. - DuPage - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 8:10 pm:

    A couple of bucks royalty to the schools would be nice, but it is a drop in the bucket of the Rauner induced financial situation the schools are now facing.


  39. - Cubs Win - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:21 pm:

    High schools can license their products through the same process the universities use although the revenue would be much lower: http://www.nfhslicensing.com/


  40. - Illinois Manufacturer - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 9:49 pm:

    Its more a trademark than a copyright and they can take actions to protect it without registration but its easier if they register unless state law somehow doesn’t let them


  41. - Sheesh Hecuka Cupajava - Monday, Apr 27, 15 @ 11:13 pm:

    When I was in high school (2008) I found a niche market in my entrepreneurship class. My class was tasked with creating a product/service and running the business. My HS had a terrible spirit wear at the time, it was outdated, and no one wanted to buy/wear it. So I chose to revamp the spirit wear. Create a new logo. And use attractive Under Armour products. At the end of the class I had $8,000 in sales with a $2,000 profit (half of which I had to give to my charity of choice). My point is, if we were teaching the importance of entrepreneurship instead of Shakespeare, maybe the students could innovated these ideas. My apparel could have gone toe-to-toe with a collegiate team at the time and it sure as heck could have gone against Walgreens.


  42. - Big Mouth - Tuesday, Apr 28, 15 @ 8:06 am:

    Can a public institution that is supported by tax dollars copyright anything?


  43. - Illinois Manufacturer - Tuesday, Apr 28, 15 @ 8:21 am:

    Big - the Universities seem to . I found out Minn sticks the c on its highway environmental statements. If the schools cant the GA should correct that


  44. - D-43 - Tuesday, Apr 28, 15 @ 6:39 pm:

    The schools get their share of the revenues when they license their logos, etc. to the companies that make/distribute those kinds of apparel. Do you think that the school districts wouldn’t sue otherwise?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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