Some colleges and universities have excellent online stores, selling a broad array of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other apparel at reasonable prices. But many schools don’t offer a good selection online, or they jack up prices on their college apparel, leading shoppers to look elsewhere on the web for things like college t-shirts and other sweatshirts. Whether you’re a naked, cash-starved student, a proud alumnus, or an even prouder parent, you’ll find a plethora of websites claiming to sell college t-shirts and sweatshirts online at fair prices. While birthday shopping for a friend who graduated from Marshall University in West Virginia, I began hunting for a “Thundering Herd” t-shirt and took some notes on websites selling college t-shirts and sweatshirts. Here’s what you should know.
They have a healthy, though by no means comprehensive, selection of schools. The problem? They are barely selling any clothing. Most of the items are gifts. If I had wanted a bumper sticker, a folding chair, or green-and-white Tiffany-style lamp to provide my Marshall University friend, I’d be in luck. But the t-shirt and sweatshirt selection is limited to a handful of schools that dominate college athletics – and not even all of those are represented. One advantage to the site, though, is the easy (though unattractive) navigation. You can easily select a college from the long list on the left and see the complete inventory of items for that school.
What a basic, easy-to-use website! Don’t let the name fool you, either. Even though the website revolves around college football, they have plenty of college t-shirts and sweatshirts that just bear the school’s name. Not everything references a mascot or uses the word “football,” though plenty of sports-related gear is available. If you know what conference the college’s football team plays in, you can use the simple drop-down menus on the right (they have 12 conference menus). If you’re as clueless about conferences as I am, then you can just use the full list drop-down. To my delight, I found a panoply of Marshall University items, including a nice $14 t-shirt for my friend. (Kyle, if you read this article, you now know what you’re worth to me!). Prices were very reasonable, and I checked several other schools to test the depth of the selection. Southern Illinois (the Salukis!), Bowling Green, and Weber State were all represented, and these aren’t incredibly well-known schools compared to the likes of Pitt, Duke, and Penn State, which also have a lot of merchandise. All-around, this is a great site. It doesn’t have *every* school, but it’s pretty comprehensive with major universities.
Known more for cheap textbooks that for college apparel, ecampus.com is still worth a visit, especially if collegefootballstore.com doesn’t have your university. This site sells t-shirts and sweatshirts for a lot of small, private schools and other places that aren’t known as athletic powerhouses – universities like Rhode Island, Wayne State, or even Atlanta Christian (which I had never heard of before). The selection is hit-and-miss with each school, but it’s certainly worth a look. There are a lot of “mom” and “dad” shirts here and also a lot of discounted sweatshirts. Plus, the ecampus.com company is well-regarded as a reliable bookseller, so there’s no reason to worry about a fly-by-night web operation.
Due to its nature, eBay is a mixed bag when it comes to college t-shirts, sweatshirts, and other apparel. You may be able to procure items that are hard to find elsewhere, but you may also get things of inferior quality or items that are used. That said, prices can sometimes be blowout-style low. And if you’re looking for vintage t-shirts (like the old two-tone ringer style), eBay can also help keep you hip with retro college gear. While searching for Thundering Herd stuff, I actually found a really funky old t-shirt from my alma mater, Lafayette College. Of course, be sure to check out all the details, as some items ship from abroad and feature low up-front prices with ridiculous additional charges.
Another store selling more gifts than actual apparel! Even though they’ve got items from practically every school you can name, college t-shirts and sweatshirts are scarce. You can score seat cushions, ties, banners, flags, lamps, and everything else, though. Come to think of it, I believe I saw a North Dakota State University kitchen sink…
Good old Target. Target’s online store carries things that your local store may not, so the selection is decent – even if it is limited to the more popular schools. If you’re a fan of, say, Michigan, you can score a t-shirt for as little as $8. But unless your school is a household name in athletics, don’t look here.