KEARNEY – The new Loper Spirit Shop opened just three weeks ago, but you can already see the impact across the University of Nebraska on the Kearney campus and throughout the community.
UNK students, staff, faculty, alumni and other supporters can’t wait to check out the revamped store inside the Nebraskan Student Union, which now offers a better selection of apparel and merchandise. for anyone who wants to show off their Loper pride.
“The response has been really positive,” said manager Len Fangmeyer. “Everyone is excited to see the new graphics and styles, and the variety of merchandise available. We get more articles every day, so people stop by two, three, four times a week to see what’s new.
The transition from Barnes & Noble, which operated the former Antelope Bookstore, allows the university to oversee general merchandise and apparel in the on-campus store. UNK Communications and Marketing partners with Spirit Shop to help grow the Loper brand.
“We now have more creative control over the products we buy and the designs we come up with,” said Kyle Means, chief marketing officer at UNK. “Customers are already commenting on the better looking clothes and more competitive prices, and the Loper pride I see in the community is brighter, fresher and overall better than I’ve seen in a long time.”
The Loper Spirit Shop offers national clothing brands such as Under Armour, Champion, Antigua, University Girl and League-Legacy, as well as items produced by local vendors. There are even designs from Kearney State College.
Fangmeyer said feedback from UNK students, employees and other customers is an important part of the decision-making process. So he plans to hold focus groups to generate new ideas and ensure that the Loper Spirit Shop meets campus and community expectations.
“Word of mouth is the best publicity you can get. When students and community members are excited about something and engage with it, it generates even more buzz and interest,” said Fangmeyer, who already works with local businesses who want to order their own UNK equipment.
Affordability is another priority, with items available at a range of prices. For example, the store is currently offering a two for $25 deal on select t-shirts. Previously, the cheapest shirts cost $25 each.
In addition to clothing for children and adults, the Loper Spirit store offers a wide variety of merchandise and gifts – water bottles, golf balls, blankets, coffee mugs, dog bandanas and leashes, license plate frames , stuffed animals, soccer balls, decals and other items bearing the UNK and Loper head logos. School supplies, such as notebooks, calculators, headphones, binders and pens, are also sold there.
“Our vision extends beyond the walls of this store,” Fangmeyer said. “We try to get our name and logo out there so people are talking about UNK all the time.”
UNK also plans to add a Spirit Shop location at Cope Stadium for home football games and an online store will soon be launched.
“The blue and gold Loper is a strong brand, and as we expand our reach throughout the region, our brand becomes even stronger,” Means said. “This will hopefully lead to the growth of the university as a whole.”
The Loper Spirit Shop is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
UNK ONLINE BOOKSHOP SAVES STUDENTS $235,000
There’s one standout item that students won’t find on the shelves of the Loper Spirit Shop – textbooks.
As part of the transition, UNK has partnered with Akademos to launch a new online bookstore this summer. Instead of buying their textbooks and course materials directly from the campus store, students now use a digital platform that saves them time and money.
“It was a big change, and I think some students were a little nervous about it, but we’re already seeing the benefits,” said Michael Christen, director of business services at UNK. “Our primary goal is to serve students and make education more accessible for them, and the online bookstore helps us achieve that goal.”
The UNK online bookstore offers physical and digital textbooks, with new, used and rental options. Once logged in with their MyBlue username and password, students can access a personalized course page that automatically connects to their class schedule, allowing them to see the textbooks and course materials they will have need this semester.
Akademos offers a price match guarantee on all new books, and there is a marketplace where students can buy and sell books at discounted prices. Purchases can be shipped for free to campus or to the student’s home address.
Students who purchased books before August 27 had the option of charging up to $500 to their MyBlue account.
“We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of books ordered because of this,” Christen said. “This option has allowed many students to have their books at the start of class, instead of waiting for their next paycheck.”
More than 50% of UNK students have used the online bookstore since it opened on July 5, a significant increase from the 37% who used the old Barnes & Noble ordering system. The change has saved students $235,000 so far.
If students need help, Loper Spirit Shop employees are available to answer questions and help with purchases.
“I’ve heard a lot of great feedback from students about how easy it is to order,” Fangmeyer said. “It’s such a great system that it literally takes less than five minutes to order your books.”
For more information about the Loper Spirit Shop and the UNK Online Bookstore, call 308-865-8555 or email [email protected]