Boise State Football

BSU fans crowd mall store to buy new Fiesta gear

Like the celebrations in Downtown Boise after the Fiesta Bowl ended Monday night, the frenzy outside The Blue & Orange Store at Boise Towne Square mall Wednesday morning was loud but peaceful.

About 70 Boise State University fans crowded into the sports shop to pick up the first Fiesta Bowl Champions merchandise.

And more people just kept coming throughout the day. People lined up outside the store throughout the afternoon.

Ten people showed up before 9:30 a.m. to wait in line until the store opened. Many eager fans had called ahead and discovered the shipment of championship merchandise wouldn't arrive until 10:30 a.m.

That's when things got crazy.

Nearly 60 more people showed up and stood in the front entrance of the store, waiting for employees to bring the new T-shirts ($21), sweatshirts ($50) and hats ($24) out of the supply room.

UPS employee Bob Chumley said the delivery might have been the most exciting he's ever made. He dropped off two carts stacked with boxes at The Blue & Orange Store's supply room, which is just outside Dillard's department store on the second level and two stores down from The Blue & Orange shop.

The store's manager and regional manager quickly cut open the boxes and divided T-shirts by size. They piled the shirts on their arms and headed toward the store to lay them on tables set up outside the store.

But the fans — most of them already decked out in blue and orange — didn't give store employees the time to set the T-shirts down.

"I've got smalls on this arm and larges on this arm," manager Joshua Aldinger shouted as people peeled T-shirts from his arms.

The crowd pounced on the white T-shirts reading "Boise State Fiesta Bowl Champions." After the initial rush, Aldinger likened himself to a rock star as people rushed toward him and practically clawed at him.

Britt Boudreaux of Meridian showed up at The Blue & Orange Store before 9 a.m. so she could be one of the first to get her hands on championship T-shirts.

"I have three boys at home — that's including the husband," she laughed. "I dropped them off at school this morning, and they said, ‘Go to the store and get us shirts. Get us hats.' "

Boudreaux was one of the first in line to buy the gear, but she had to fight through the crowd to do it. "It's like an adult Christmas," she said.

"This is just like when I tried to get Tickle Me Elmo," added Jean Otto of Meridian, standing next to Boudreaux.

Passers-by in the mall stopped to say wow as they watched the crowd dig through stacks of clothes for the right sizes and then create a checkout line that snaked outside the store.

The crowd's most electric moment came when store employees brought out the white hats. Almost all of the male shoppers tried to push to the front of the crowd.

The store sold out of its 500 hats before 2 p.m. and was well on its way to selling out of championship gear completely by the end of the night, said co-owner Travis Hawkes. "There's such a frenzy," he said.

The store sold $25,000 worth of merchandise during the first two hours it was open. That's usually how much the store sells in one day on BSU game days.

Hawkes told customers not to worry if he sells out. He expects more shipments throughout the week. The scene was similar at the university's campus bookstore, Director Kim Thomas said. That store's shipment came in early Wednesday morning.

The bookstore had sold about $20,000 worth of merchandise by 1 p.m. Any profits at that store help fund student scholarships, Thomas said.

The bookstore received 300 Web orders Wednesday morning, Thomas said. The Blue & Orange Store received more than 350 online orders Monday night through midday Wednesday. Most customers at The Blue & Orange Store said they didn't expect so many people to show up. But Brenda Dunstan of Boise was prepared. She just returned from Arizona, where she witnessed BSU's victory over Oklahoma and learned about true BSU fans.

"It was that crazy down there," Dunstan said. "... Every where you went there was an orange person."

Contact reporter Melissa McGrath at mmcgrath@idahostatesman.com or 377-6439.

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