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Local business takes different approach during NCAA Tournament 

Local business takes different approach during NCAA Tournament 

Caroline Soro | @caroline_soro 

No. 1 Kansas men’s basketball defeated No. 8 North Carolina 72-69 to take home the NCAA Championship trophy on April 4, and local Lawrence businesses took advantage of the opportunity to sell Jayhawk merchandise. 

Phil Minton, president and CEO of Jock’s Nitch Sporting Goods, didn’t join other sports merchandising businesses in selling their products on Massachusetts Street. Minton set up shop in two different locations around town, which is a strategy he and his team have used for decades. 

“We’ve been in business here since 1989, so we know what happens during the Final Four – a lot of people don’t want to go downtown to Mass St.,” Minton said. “It’s just convenient for the customers, and we sold more in our tents than the store yesterday because it’s so chaotic.” 

Jock’s Nitch, which is one of Lawrence’s oldest sports merchandising companies, continued its March Madness tradition of opening pop-up tents around Lawrence. Minton and his team opened one tent on 23rd St. and one on Iowa St., selling gear for the Final Four and NCAA Championship. 

Minton said there are lots of moving parts in setting up the pop-up tents. The process of getting officially-licensed NCAA Tournament gear has also been difficult this year in the wake of COVID-19 and other supply chain issues. 

“It’s very hard to pull everything off,” Minton said. “You have to have all the permits from the city, the permits from the University of Kansas, have the contacts for the officially licensed Final Four shirts, which is a pain.” 

However, Jock’s Nitch’s long-standing history has created strong relationships with vendors and suppliers, making it easier for the team to obtain exclusive merchandise. 

“We’ve been doing it for 43 years, so we have all the vendor relations,” Minton said. “We’ve been doing it the longest of anybody here in the midwest, so of the companies, we’re like the A-list company, so we know how to work the system and get the product and stuff like that.” 

Minton believes getting those products in and distributing them to customers ultimately has a positive economic effect on the community. 

“It’s great for the local economy here,” Minton said. “Stores just texted me and we’re selling our shirts in other towns in Atchison and Topeka. So, it’s just good for the whole economy of the midwest and for Kansas.”