About this idea
Many U of M fans either don’t have access to, or don’t have the time/patience to find vintage & one of a kind U of M gear that matches their personal style while fitting within their budget. On-campus retailers fail to meet this need, offering trendy lines only on occasion, with overall relatively generic design options at a high price. Further, many students curate a large collection of spirit wear during their 4 years, but don’t have a use for most of these clothing items after graduation. They’re left with several initially expensive pieces with few ways to earn that money back. This cycle of collegiate fashion is not only expensive, but generates a lot of clothing waste that’s harmful for the environment. This is a problem for students and fans of U of M and at other colleges across the country.
We source inventory by buying directly from students and fans, online resale sites, connecting with vintage suppliers, or thrifting in order to find quality pieces for a cheaper or bulk price. We then price the items according to product elements, quality, and demand of the market in order to make a profit. Then, we sell them by either posting on Instagram or hosting on campus pop up shops. This month, we’re launching a Shopify website for customers to shop online. In the future, we want to open up a retail location on campus serves as the Plato’s closet for collegiate gear, making it even more convenient for students to sell their clothes to us.
In 3 years, we've sold over 4,000 items, generated $127,000 in revenue, and $81,000 in profit. Based on a successful pilot we ran at MSU (800 items sold and $16,000 revenue in 1 year), we believe the high demand for unique gear and opportunity to capitalize on gear already in circulation applies to campuses across the country. We want to rebrand to U Apparel, and move forward expanding to other Universities.
Every single year, 4.6 billion dollars worth of licensed collegiate apparel enters the industry. Not only does this reflect the immense demand for fans to represent their schools, but it shows how much inventory is in circulation. Since we sell all secondhand apparel, this is 4,6 billion dollars worth of clothing, per year, that we could end up distributing and saving from landfills. Our products appeal to a very large potential market. Ultimately, any Michigan student, alumni, or fan could find a piece they love. To tackle such a large market, we started by targeting students in fraternities and sororities. Tailgating is a big part of Greek Life, and these students have a higher willingness and ability to pay. At U of M there are 3,906 students in greek life. If each of those students spent only $30 a year on Michigan gear, we'd be looking at an annual market size of $117,180. Now imagine if we expanded to include all students (not just those in greek life), all staff, all alumni, and all fans of U of M. Now imagine if we replicated this at colleges across the country. There truly is a large opportunity within this market. Aside from selling gear to customers, we're offering a way for fans to recoup some of their college gear investment. We surveyed 500 of our current Instagram followers and found that 31% of respondents believe they'll have spent over $500 on Michigan gear by the time they graduate. Many students just donate, pass down, or throw away their gear when they leave campus. UMICH APPAREL offers a way for them to earn some of that money back.
What I'll do with $5,000
We will put the $5,000 towards building a retail location on U of M's Ann Arbor campus. We believe this location is the best for a pilot storefront because we have a strong presence already and high brand awareness. We know students would be very excited to shop at a permanent location, and this can determine if it is a worthy investment to launch on other campuses. Opening up a retail store is very expensive, and every little bit counts.
- $65,884 Annual retail rent (1,267 SF space on S. University Ave.)
- $48,000 buildout materials (average)
- $23,040 Annual Payroll
- $18,400 Annual Property Tax
- $600 Annual Utilities
- $3,300 Annual small business insurance
About Abigail Miars
I'm a current Senior at the University of Michigan studying Economics and Entrepreneurship. I grew up in Grandville, and my dad used to work in the Start Garden! I run a business called UMICH APPAREL. It's a platform for students to buy and sell unique, vintage, and affordable U of M gear; the Plato's Closet of collegiate gear.