University of Central Arkansas fans are getting an alternative to the campus bookstore this weekend from a “fun, hip Southern company” out of Texas.
Barefoot, founded in 2002 in Stephenville, Texas, home of Tarleton State University, is the brainchild of brothers Matt and Mitch Copeland.
The store started as a custom apparel business and has since grown to include five retail stores in Texas, with two additional stores being built in Conway and Statesboro, Ga.
Each Barefoot store is anchored by a university or college who licenses its official logo to be printed on the company’s custom apparel.
The Conway location sits across from UCA’s Jeff Farris Softball Complex and Bill Stephens Track and Soccer Complex in the Plaza at Centerstone at 2235 Dave Ward Dr. Suite 105.
Barefoot holds a licensing agreement to print the official UCA Bear Head, Bear Paw and UCA typeface logo.
“If you go to Walmart, the Campus Bookstore or a place like Barefoot, they have to be officially licensed,” said Ryan Holloway, director of corporate sales for UCA Athletics. “Then we have to approve the art work to ensure they’re using appropriate colors and logos.”
Barefoot sales representative Tanner Evans said the store has more than 40 different UCA T-shirt designs that have been approved by the University.
Anything Barefoot designs must be sent through a software program to be approved by the University before sold to the consumer, said Brad Coley, UCA brand manager with the Licensing Resource Group.
For each officially licensed piece of merchandise sold, UCA gets a 10 percent royalty from the sell.
“Anytime we can get someone to sell our officially licensed merchandise, it’s a positive,” Holloway said, “but you can’t put a price tag on having our stuff out there with a store that solely sells UCA gear.”
Although the store does not have a licensing agreement with Hendrix College or Central Baptist College, Evans said, the company may look into acquiring one in the near future.
“I know there are two other colleges there, but right now we’re focusing on UCA polos, T-shirts, pajama pants, jackets and tons of accessories like cups, koozies and hats,” Westbrook said.
Heidi Westbrook, Barefoot marketing director, said the owners really enjoyed Conway as a town, and thought UCA had enough school spirit to support a Barefoot store.
“The owner travels around to different universities to get a feel for the town, athletic department and student body to see how enthusiastic they are about their university,” Westbrook said.
There’s also a Bare Naked Boutique located at the back of the store that sells clothing, scarves and jewelry. The store’s manager is planning to stock the boutique section with purple and gray “game day dresses.”
Evans said he has been speaking with Ryan Holloway, UCA Athletics’ director of corporate sales, about making some custom T-shirts to give away at upcoming basketball games.
“We’re looking to do some Tees for Threes to throw out at the games,” Evans said.
Evans said in addition to Barefoot’s partnership with UCA Athletics, the company is also looking to partner with different organizations throughout the Conway community.
“Not only are we plugging in as a retail store, but to the University and locally with custom printing,” Westbrook said.
The cost of custom apparel depends on the quantity of merchandise and how many colors are used in the lettering and art. Barefoot does not charge for shipping and there is no art or service fee.
UCA and Barefoot logo T-shirts range from $14.99 to $29.95. Polos run about $50.
“The custom apparel has the exact quality of the shirts in the store,” Evans said.
Barefoot also carries a full line of outerwear from Nike and Under Armour.
“We’re always excited about our Campus Bookstore being on campus and they’re wonderful partners, but it’s great to have off campus partners who can cater to UCA and Conway,” Holloway said.
Barefoot management says the City of Conway can look for the store to open sometime this weekend with a grand opening event planned for sometime next month. The store’s first 1,000 customers will receive a free Barefoot logo T-shirt.
For more information, contact Manager Jackie Pardee at 501-328-3470 or visit barefootcampusoutfitter.com.
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)