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District earns profit from national royalty program

WORTHINGTON -- Teens buying T-shirts translates to a tip for the Trojans.

The District 518 Board of Education approved a royalty agreement with Walgreens during its Aug. 17 meeting, allowing a portion of Trojan merchandise sales to go back to the district.

Chicago-based Town Tees manufactures custom products -- mostly high school merchandise -- then sells them to national retailers like Walgreens.

"In each Walgreens location, we will do the high school that coordinates with the local high school," explained Kevin Fahey, president of Town Tees. "We help the schools protect their brand. We tell the schools your brand is your largest asset; we can help you leverage it at that national retail chain level, and if this is done right, we can generate an awful lot of revenue."

Town Tees pays the district 10 percent of the wholesale cost of all merchandise sold. Since the Worthington Walgreens began selling the merchandise two months ago, $514 in profits have been funneled back to the school.

There is a display of Trojan-themed merchandise near the store's entrance and another display toward the center of the store; stock is replenished as it is sold. Among the current offerings are hooded sweatshirts, T-shirts, cheers shorts, athletic shorts for boys and men, and even a Trojan Snuggie --the often-mocked as-seen-on-TV blanket-poncho is Trojan red.

Hooded sweatshirts have been the top seller, said Certified Store Manager Jason Kooiker.

"Just because of the time of year, in the fall they are always popular," he said.

Kooiker is friends with the Storm Lake, Iowa, Walgreens manager, who alerted him to the popularity of Town Tees merchandise at his Storm Lake store. Kooiker then contacted Town Tees.

Fahey said the company will also offer merchandise at wholesale prices to school clubs or departments.

He cautioned other districts to beware of vendors who distribute school-themed merchandise without the school's permission.

"Unfortunately there are vendors that are selling high school merchandise without an agreement with these schools; it's creating a generic market place," Fahey said, asserting clip art-style mascot images and logos dilute the school's brand and don't give money back to the district itself.

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