WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Despite KU's loss, Kansas will have a presence at the Final Four in Indianapolis: Prairie Graphics, a Lawrence company, is printing team T-shirts.
Jayhawks aren't cheap.
That's the take from Bob Bishop, whose Phat Boy Merchandising company had all four souvenir stands for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament at Lawrence Joel Coliseum.
With the exception of nearby Duke, fans of other schools couldn't match the buying power of KU's faithful.
"KU's shirts were all gone by the time Friday's game ended," Bishop said during a brief sales break Sunday on the coliseum concourse. "They're good. They're not cheap. They wouldn't be here if they were cheap."
KU's 200 T-shirts went fast, he said, while DePaul and Butler items didn't fare as well. Bishop still had dozens of Illinois shirts in stock, even as the Illini prepared to take on Florida in Sunday's first game. Florida won.
"Illinois is a big stiff, but we kind of expected that," Bishop said.
Atlanta-based Phat Boy handles all souvenir and program sales at the coliseum, whether it's for a Faith Hill concert or the NCAA's premier college sporting event.
Bishop figures to rake in sales of $150,000 for the weekend, with 40 items on the rack ranging from $3 keychains to $8 yo-yos to $59 pullovers.
Among the others: Child-sized T-shirts printed by Prairie Graphics Inc.
Prairie Graphics, based at 22nd Street and Haskell Avenue, is the smallest apparel supplier for the tournament, owner Jon Hofer said.
The company already cranked out 2,000 shirts for the first and second rounds, and started running Iowa State "Sweet 16" T-shirts Sunday afternoon. Oklahoma State's shirts will run this morning.
The company gives Lawrence and the state a presence in Indianapolis and the Final Four. Prairie Graphics shirts will be there, along with others from Lenexa-based Gear for Sports.
"March is our busiest month," said Hofer, whose company has $2 million in annual sales. "It is madness."
-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is email@example.com.