Softball dabbles in distribution

by David A. Bumpus / Beacon Staff • November 20, 2014

Emerson’s softball team temporarily opened its first online store this month, making it the third college sport to test out digital merchandising this year. It may be followed by three more.

The softball store, which provided discounted apparel, was open from Nov. 7–16 and hosted through the vendor Prime Time Sports. Earlier this season, men’s and women’s volleyball opened online stores through the same vendor in October. 

Lindsay DeStefano Colbert, Emerson’s athletic administrator and the softball team’s assistant coach, was in charge of designing and setting up the team’s store. Colbert said she wanted to give fans the opportunity to support their team. 

“We wanted to start up the sport-specific stores because we have had a lot of requests for sport-specific gear from family, friends and other fans,” Colbert wrote in an email to the Beacon. “It also allows the student-athletes to purchase items that they might not otherwise be provided at a highly discounted rate.”

The apparel was available online for only 10 days to serve as a trial run, Colbert said, and because demand would not be high enough to keep it open year-round. She said she couldn’t provide the exact number of sales from the pilot.

Annie Jenkins, a senior journalism major and captain of the softball team, said she enjoyed the idea of having a store for the team’s merchandise.

“It’s nice because the items can be great holiday gifts as well as warm clothes to wear when it’s freezing at Rotch Playground [the team’s field] in March,” said the outfielder. 

Prime Time Sports allows stores to be set up as a fundraiser, meaning teams could see profits from sales, but Colbert said the softball shop was set up differently.

“The softball store is not being used as a fundraiser,” Colbert wrote. “We don’t see money from it.”

Jenkins said she appreciated the idea of giving families a way to show off their softball team spirit.

“We have nine freshmen and one transfer student on our roster,” Jenkins said, “so the store is a good way to get them and their families some special Emerson softball gear.”

The team may attempt a similar merchandise selling store soon. 

“We’re hoping the store is successful,” Jenkins said, “so that we could do it again in the future.”

The baseball, women’s basketball, and men’s lacrosse teams each have stores in the works, according to Colbert, which the teams are planning to launch within a few weeks. If everything goes well, Colbert said there may be a chance for all of the teams to have their own permanent merchandise sites.