MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — By chance, a University of Minnesota student manager realized there was a market for previously-used and unused athletic apparel. Those prices not only benefit consumers– But help the next generation of coaches.
It’s three weeks of basketball — three weeks of branding. Teams play games, and teams sell their teams clothing to fans in the process. Not just shirts — shoes, athletic wear, athletic apparel and more.
It’s what brings us to a warehouse in St. Louis Park.
Drew Boe is a onetime manager at the University of Minnesota and graduate assistant at a few different football programs.
When Tubby Smith was fired as Gopher Basketball coach, he gave Boe the coaching clothing he would never wear again. Boe sold it and found out there was demand.
“Coach Smith was actually fired at Minnesota, and it was his donation of all of his used and excess Minnesota items that he, of course, was no longer going to be wearing,” Boe explained.
He was right. So Boe decided to develop a network of coaches and programs that would donated their outdated apparel — Managers on a Mission. He could sell it on his website at a discount.
“Average sales price is a little under $30 an item,” Boe said. “If I had to guess, I’d say it’s at least 50 percent below what you’re going to pay at a bookstore.”
Former Gopher Al Nuness was asked to sit in on the board. When he first entered the warehouse, he realized the potential.
“So how do we take advantage of something like this? Youth programs,” Nuness explained. “All the shoes — football shoes, basketball shoes, track shoes, shorts — any team, your favorite team.”
The proceeds are not-for-profit — they go to fund mission trips for college student managers and graduate assistants to Africa where they teach and network, and hopefully develop a character component they can take into a coaching career.
“Really, the entire organization is founded on the belief that sports is one of the most influential, resource-abundant industries in our country,” Boe said.
What has evolved is amazing — between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds of new inventory arrive every week. From big colleges to the big leagues — they get everything.
“Probably our most common items will end up being items that end up being issued from coaches to support staff,” Boe said. “So it’ll be anywhere from the footwear, to sweats, to polos, workout shirts, shorts.”
And the potential for the consumer means fans can win — and so can the kids who have been unable to afford the top shelf.
“It’s less than half price,” Nuness said. “I mean, come on — brand new Nike shoes? Brand new, and you’re paying half price for them.”
All the while funding what they hope is a fundamental character change in coaches in big-time sports, during a time when scandals are once again common. It’s all because one student manager unleashed his entrepreneurial spirit.
And the ceiling for this project is still out there.
“We just continue to look up in something that’s been an unbelievable blessing for us,” Boe said.