Undefeated season cures economic woes

Local stores have found a cure for poor sales in a weak economy--an undefeated season.

"We've seen a lot of people buying despite the bad economic times," said Trey Johnston of J&M bookstore.

Johnston said the store has seen an increase in jersey sales, specifically the No. 2 jersey worn by Cam Newton.

"Anything we have that has the number 2 on it sells extremely well," said Katie Lee, director at Auburn University Bookstore.

Lee said in addition to jerseys, children's clothing and jewelry have also sold better.

"The thing we haven't sold many of is the Auburn Snuggie," Lee said.

Johnston said that in more than 30 years in business, the store has hardly seen anything quite like this season.

Most of the sales are driven by Heisman hopeful Cam Newton and Auburn's spotless record.

Johnston said he expects the store will get more business if the Tigers win against South Carolina Saturday.

"People want those T-shirts or other items that say 'SEC champions' on it," Johnston said.

Johnston said J&M has sold about 1,000 Cam Newton jerseys this season.

"It has been a fantastic season," Johnston said. "Buying Auburn gear is a way that fans can show support for Auburn and for Cam."

Big Blue Bookstore saw a jump in sales after the controversy surrounding Cam Newton emerged, according to John Harrell, 1977 graduate and owner of Big Blue Bookstore.

Harrell said the negative stories about Newton caused Auburn fans to buy even more No. 2-related merchandise.

"One thing is for sure: It's definitely about family," Harrell said. "If someone attacks your family members, you're going to form ranks and stand up for them. That's just what the Auburn family has done."

Showing support for the quarterback also means helping the economy.

"Everybody wants to support," Johnston said. "It feels like us against the world."

A few weeks ago, J&M put a poster in the front window of its store on College Street that reads, "We stand with Cam."

"We're Auburn football fans, too," Johnston said. "We root for our Tigers and hope to see them do well just as much as everyone else."

Lee said the AU bookstore has seen an increase in sales of Auburn merchandise over the last few years, even before the 2010 season.

The AU bookstore's sales are largely affected by the kickoff time of the game.

"We have less traffic coming through the store when there is an early kickoff," Lee said. "But we have seen fans come in even after losses in previous seasons to buy Auburn merchandise."

Lee said in her 13 years at the bookstore she has learned that Auburn fans support the team no matter what.

"There's no question that Auburn fans are some of the most loyal," said Harrell.

Harrell also serves as the president of the Chamber of Commerce this year, so he said he has a bigger perspective on the economic impact of a successful football season.

"This season sure has a special feel to it," Harrell said. "I think the enthusiasm and level of energy of the team from the very first weeks of the season was contagious."

Harrell said he has been going to Auburn football games since the 1960s, but he has never seen support from fans at such a high level as in 2010.

"People just can't get enough," Harrell said.

Harrell said he thinks people's attitudes about the economy have also changed this year. A more positive attitude in addition to the successful football season has produced a large jump in the sales of merchandise.

"People need their orange and blue gear," Lee said. "And we are here to give it to them."

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