Kenyon Barker needed a T-shirt to prove she had been a Kansas University student when the Jayhawks made the Final Four.
So she blocked out time Thursday morning to sort through the shirt selection at KU Bookstore in the Kansas Union, picking her wardrobe for rooting on the Jayhawks tonight.
"This is monumental," the KU graduate student said. "I've got to have something to represent it."
It's monumental for fans, but it's monumental for retailers, too.
"For businesses that sell this merchandise, it's a huge financial shot in the arm," said Janet Muggy, co-owner of Jayhawk Bookstore, which has sold about 3,000 Final Four T-shirts this week. "In an economic year like this, it's not a bad thing to happen."
Jayhawk Bookstore, 1420 Crescent Road, opened after the Elite Eight game March 29 to sell KU merchandise, and will extend its hours Sunday if KU wins today. Several businesses have set up parking-lot tents to accommodate the rush on KU gear.
Although Final Four T-shirts have been the most popular item at Muggy's store, hats and pennants also are selling. And sales of regular KU merchandise -- without the Final Four logo -- are up, too.
At KU Bookstores, director Mike Reid said he expected the Final Four appearance to net several hundred thousand dollars in sales. He noted the variety of items offered this year.
Of 24 Final Four items being sold at the bookstore, 12 are shirts.
"My first Final Four here was in 1986, and I think we offered a couple different shirts," Reid said.
The sales also help the university's scholarship funds.
KU receives an 8 percent royalty on every item bearing a KU-trademarked image or slogan, such as the Jayhawk. KU gear with a Final Four logo commands a 14 percent royalty, with 10 percent going to KU and 4 percent to the NCAA.
Paul Vander Tuig, licensing administrator for KU, said the Final Four appearance could net KU an additional $200,000 this year.
Royalties, which KU generally receives about six months after sales are made, were up by $183,000 during the first half of the current fiscal year, reflecting an increase in sales because of last year's Final Four appearance. During the first six months of the fiscal year, KU has received $349,672 in royalties.
About 450 companies are licensed to put KU logos on everything from shortbread cookies to toy trucks. They're on caskets, wallets, watches, bobblehead dolls, sunglasses and just about anything else you could imagine.
If the Jayhawks advance today and win Monday night, Vander Tuig estimates KU could take in $500,000 more in royalties than it did last year. But he said that's hard to estimate.
"The demand would be so high, it would be pretty lucrative," he said.
KU would earn a 12 percent royalty on national championship merchandise, with another 3 percent going to the NCAA.
The prospect of a national championship has some local businesses scrambling to prepare.
Midwest Graphics, 800 N.H., expects to have 35,000 to 40,000 T-shirts distributed within a few days of a KU national championship. Owner Lanny Riedel said a few retailers had asked for small stocks of shirts in advance to sell after Monday night's game.
If KU loses, the shirts would be destroyed.
"It's a gamble you take," Riedel said. "It is a wonderful thing to say you've got the first winning shirts on the streets."
The University Book Shop, 1116 W. 23rd St., is planning for a KU win on Monday. Manager Kristin Vickers said she'd already placed orders for T-shirts, hats, license plates and mugs saying "national champions" on them. If KU wins, the merchandise will be produced.
She declined to say how much the shop would sell because of the tournament success.
"I think if KU wins the national championship, we'll have people outside our door at 7 or 8 in the morning on Tuesday," she said. "It's a pretty big deal for us. We don't plan on them going to the Final Four or doing better than that, but it makes our sales and our numbers so much better."