OU Revs Up Game Day Experience with Unique Shopping Experience
This fall, the University of Oklahoma won’t just be competing on the football field. Far below the stands, away from high-definition video boards, the marching band and the gridiron action will be OU’s latest incarnation of fan immersion into all things Sooner.
The new Sooner Shop in The Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is now open and competing for the hearts of Sooner fans with more than 19,000 square feet of hats, t-shirts, fan gear and a gameday experience that measures up to action unfolding on the field.
“In our mind, this is a flagship store for OU. It’s something we hope our fans can be really proud of,” said Candace Stimmel, OU’s director of branding and licensing. “It’s a true expression of who we are as a brand. I think people will feel that when they walk into the store, they just get a vibe of excellence.”
Following the fall 2018 semester, the former OU Bookstore closed and moved to a new location to open under a new name, the Campus Corner Store. Then, OU Athletics and Fanatics went to work on the new Sooner Shop.
“The ideas they put in front of us were great,” Stimmel said. “They blew us away on paper, but I don’t think any of us could have imagined really seeing it come to life the way it has. We’re really proud of the product and how it’s turned out.
“They wanted us to own this space and not just come in and take a cookie cutter approach. They really wanted it to be special for OU.”
From the black walls and open ceilings with exposed ductwork, to the near-ceiling-height display islands, the store has a unique interactive feel. In addition to being visually pleasing, the new space feels breezy and light.
“When you’re going to have a fan shop that’s adjacent to your football stadium, we know that the highest traffic times for the store will most likely be those six or seven Saturdays in the fall when fans come to experience an OU football game,” Stimmel said. “We thought about fans coming into this space and just being immersed in OU athletics.”
The centerpiece of the upper level of the two-story shop is a towering t-shirt island that includes Nike shirts representing every sport on the OU campus, something Stimmel said was intentional.
“Everything from the décor to the product itself, we really hope there is something here for everybody. We want the store to be a place for all Sooners,” she said. “That was a key focus. Representing every single sport here at OU was critically important.”
Beyond the t-shirt islands is a collaboration with Norman-based Top of the World, one of the country’s leading collegiate headwear and fan gear companies. Describing it as a hat wall hardly seems to do it justice since it spans a good portion of the store’s upper east wall.
“We joke that it’s more of a hat cathedral than a wall. It’s a gorgeous piece of the store,” Stimmel said.
With mainly clothing and headwear found on the upper level of the store, the lower level offers more clothing options as well as a large selection of novelty merchandise, including space that will eventually house OU-themed pool tables and foosball tables.
“If a fan likes one of the tables while experiencing it in the store and wants one shipped directly to their home, they can arrange for that,” Stimmel said. “It’s kind of fun to just come in here and hang out, whether you buy something or not.”
Also, on the lower level is space dedicated to soon-to-be OU alumni. Jostens maintains a section of the store stocked with graduation gowns and accessories, as well as diploma frames and other items that graduates and their families may want to pick up while on campus.
Throughout both levels of the shop, Sooner fans will find the familiar Nike Swoosh and OU X Jordan lines of clothing and merchandise.
“We worked with Nike and the Jordan brand to bring them into the space and truly design, develop and implement what they wanted that footprint of the store to look like,” Stimmel said.
Additionally, fans who don’t make it to the store can restock their OU gear via shop.soonersport.com. That said, Stimmel believes a visit to the store will not disappoint.
“We really want everyone to leave here feeling inspired and feeling proud to be associated with the OU brand,” she said. “We want this to be the highest possible reflection and have people leaving with that sense of pride.
“More than just a transaction, fans have to have a reason to come here and it has to be a memorable experience… and we feel as if we accomplished that.”
In addition to the new shop in the stadium, Stimmel said Fanatics plans to continue to operate their smaller Sooner Shop at the corner of Boyd Street and Buchanan Avenue in Norman’s historic Campus Corner district. – BSM