There's someone who may want the University of Oklahoma to win the Big 12 Championship more than anybody else, and it's not that die-hard Sooner fan in your family.
Local screen printers have been gearing up for the game for the past two weeks, hopeful for an OU win and anxious about the bowl game announcements that follow. The reason? When OU or Oklahoma State University wins, so do they. Collegiate merchandise is big business for these screen printing companies — or at least a hefty boost in sales. If Oklahoma wins today's Big 12 Championship, many will become 24-hour operations, producing thousands of T-shirts seconds after the Big 12 champion is announced. "A lot of our success depends on OU's success,” said Julie Lulla-Barajas, spokeswoman for USA Screen Printing and Embroidery, the state's largest screen printer. For the past seven years, USA Screen Printing has re-opened its retail store to begin selling T-shirts the same night of any bowl or Big 12 championship game that involves OU or OSU. This year will be no different. If OU wins, the store at 3100 S Meridian Ave. will be open between 10 p.m. and at least midnight tonight to sell up to 5,000 Big 12 Championship T-shirts hot off the presses. "We'll have people come in and buy 50 to 100 shirts because their whole family and friends are at the game,” said Charlene Ramsey, USA's general manager of production. "That's how quick it can get out of hand.” Getting to that point, though, is no easy task. Even at kick-off time, Jones and his production team begin prepping the presses to produce 450 to 600 shirts per hour. By the third quarter, everybody — including the sales staff — is on the clock and ready to go. "It's extremely hectic and busy,” said Jeffrey Jones, USA's production manager. "It's a whole lot of hurry-up-and-wait and then once you can go, it looks like you set the ants loose.” Short-sleeve shirts cost $16.95, and long-sleeve are $19.95. Jeff Melton, president of Hard Edge Design in Norman, described a similar scenario. "We're pre-scheduled for 48 hours of continuous production,” he said. "Usually what we'll do is we'll have two sets of press crews, and we'll run eight- to 10-hour shifts and rotate those out.
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