Living The Greek Life
Tony Poston has found his sweet spot. The founder/president of College Hill Custom Threads (asi/164578) has built a thick book of business by catering to fraternities and sororities.
For Poston, locking into the Greek Life niche came naturally. A proud fraternity man as an undergrad, Poston had an innate understanding of the branded merchandise needs of frats and sororities. He saw opportunity in being able to meet those needs, and he took it. “Business was up 37% last year,”Poston says. “We are expanding at a good rate and there is a lot of room to grow.”
To serve this group, reps must know what’s trending on campuses, which can differ by region. “On the West Coast, it’s brighter colors, neons and floral prints and lots of tank tops,”he says. “On the East Coast, it’s pocket T-shirts and pigment-dyed garments and rowing apparel like windshirts and rain jackets.”To spot emerging pan-region trends, look first to campuses in the Southeast. “Many of the styles come out of there,”say Poston. “We’re doing stuff on the West Coast now that was big in the Southeast a couple years ago.”
Sorority sisters will love the District Made Ladies Perfect Weight V-Neck Tee (DM1170L). From SanMar, (asi/84863), 800-346-3369.
With fraternities and sororities, there are always projects to work on. Many routinely engage in fundraisers for which they need apparel. During April, for instance, chapters everywhere participate in Relay for Life. This year, Poston provided event-specific shirts for frats and sororities across the country. The average order was about 150 pieces. “We donate 10% to Relay for Life to support our clients in their fundraising,”he says.
Parent weekends, when moms and dads visit the houses, are another stellar sales stoker. College Hill fulfills hundreds of orders for these weekends, with the average order being 100 pieces or more. The deals often involve more expensive name-brand apparel since items are typically purchased for wear by parents. Wind shirts, quarter zips, fleeces, rain jackets and full-zip hoodies are among the popular products.
By The Numbers
More than 800 campuses across the United States and Canada are home to fraternities and sororities.
372,090 Approximate total undergraduate fraternity membership.
85% Fraternity men have made up 85% of U.S. Supreme Court justices since 1910 and, historically, 76% of U.S. Senators and 85% of Fortune 500 executives. Get to these powerful people in college and gain these budding professionals’long-term business.
- Get educated on licensing requirements. “This market is difficult to understand,” says Poston. “If you don’t follow the rules, you’re breaking the law, and you could face serious fines.”
- Have fun. “If you’re having fun with what you do, that makes people want to buy from you,” says Poston. 3 Be a responsible consultant. “You’re working with young buyers, and sometimes they want things that don’t represent fraternity and sorority life in the best light,” says Poston.
- You need to know how to say ‘no’ in the right way and suggest things that will portray them well.”
Fraternities and Sororities Want…
- Pocket T-shirts
- Water bottles
- Tank tops
- Can coolers
- Bottle openers
- Stadium scarves
- Hooded sweatshirts
- On-trend trucker caps/flat-bill caps
- Flannel plaid pants