UVM Bookstore Scores Stanley Cup.



Grand-opening events happen all the time. The appearance of the famed Stanley Cup at the grand opening of a store in a hockey-crazy town like Burlington, VT, is not so run-of-the-mill. 
But that’s just what happened for the grand opening of the new Catamount Store, a joint venture of the UVM Bookstore and the University of Vermont athletic department, in the Church Street Marketplace in downtown Burlington.
“If you’re not a hockey school, you don’t get it,” said Jay Menninger, director of the UVM Bookstore. “We don’t have football; we have hockey and a very enthusiastic fan base for our college team, and hockey in general, so it’s a real big deal to see the Cup.”
The Stanley Cup, which transfers each year to the new champion of the National Hockey League, was never part of the grand-opening plan until Paul Goodman, a former strength-and-conditioning coach at the university, decided to pay a visit. Goodman is now one of the coaches for the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the Cup last June. Tradition allows each member of the championship team and staff to keep the Cup for one day during the summer after winning it.
People began lining up hours before a short parade comprising two vehicles and UVM’s pep band and cheerleaders made its way with the Cup to the store in the middle of the afternoon on Sept. 11. The Cup was on display outside the store for an hour and members of the public were able to have their photo taken with it for a $5 donation. The proceeds benefited the UVM Victory Club and the Church Street Marketplace Street Outreach Team.
“We had one young lady dressed to the nines in all her Blackhawk gear,” Menninger said. “She was one serious, diehard fan.”
Menninger had been looking to expand the bookstore operation and saw the Church Street Marketplace as a perfect venue for building UVM brand recognition. It was also a great opportunity to team with UVM athletics. The 2,300-sq.-ft. facility features athletic merchandise, but also university gifts, products from local vendors, and books by local authors.
“Our pedestrian mall is one of the top 10 tourist attractions in the area each year, and we had no presence there,” he said. “Church Street Marketplace likes this because we are renting space, the other stores in the area like it because we are bringing people in, and the customers like it because they don’t have to go to campus to buy their UVM merchandise.”
Selling the partnership was easier once a newly designed UVM Bookstore web site was launched. Aggressively marketing the site grew web sales quickly. That allowed Menninger to propose a plan to link athletic department customers directly to the bookstore site for their online purchases, with the athletic department receiving a percentage of those sales. Because the athletic department merchandise link was at CatamountStore.com, the new downtown store was named Catamount Store for consistency.
“It made sense to partner with the athletic department instead of competing with them,” Menninger said, “and it behooves them to promote Catamount Stores because it helps in their marketing. This has been one of the few ventures I’ve been part of that has gotten nothing but positive comments from everyone. People are just blown away by this.”
—Dan Angelo
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