WWD.com/retail-news/retail-features/the-old-college-try-1151482/

SCARSDALE, N.Y. — Michael Greenberg, president of Off Campus, a chain of six shops specializing in school-specific apparel, sees all walks of the college-affiliated pass through his stores.

His diverse clientele includes young girls who like the dark green color of a Dartmouth sweatshirt, Florida State football enthusiasts, Syracuse alumni and the proud mothers of recent college acceptees.

Before he started Off Campus six-years ago, Greenberg was constantly reminded of the draw of college sweatshirts every time he left his family to go on a business trip.

“My three daughters would always ask me to pick up a Boston University sweatshirt when I went to Boston, a Penn sweatshirt when I was in Philadelphia,” he explained. “It occurred to me that they could only be bought in a college bookstore. Why not make them available to people off campus?”

Since he opened his first store in 1988 in Cedarhurst, L.I., five others have followed in Manhattan, Scarsdale, Great Neck, Greenwich and Boston.

Three more stores are slated to open in the first half of 1994, Greenberg said, in Westport, Rye, and Ridgewood, N.J. “We target upscale, affluent areas,” he explained.

The apparel, mainly sweatclothes and T-shirts, some with professional sport team logos, is produced under private label. Greenberg contracts most of the work out to manufacturers in New York and Connecticut, with specialty work such as embroidery done in the South. By producing private label, he said, the company is able to react quickly to trends and step up production for a particular school with a winning sports team.

In terms of production, the next step, said Greenberg, is in-house manufacturing. While Off Campus is currently a retail business in the U.S., the company wholesales to the Tokyo-based department store Tobu. Greenberg is looking into wholesaling the label domestically as well.

The college logos are all designed by Greenberg and his wife Vicki, and each is approved individually by the 200 schools they represent. Sweatshirt styles include a standardized, classic design in cotton for $48 and in cotton and nylon for $29. Cotton T-shirts retail for $16.

Top-selling logos include Princeton and Syracuse lacrosse; Duke, North Carolina and Michigan baseball, and Florida State football. While sports teams are a favorite among boys, said Greenberg, girls prefer the color palette of Dartmouth and the purple NYU sweatshirts. About 40 percent of his total business, he said, is among grade school students.

Alumni, he added, represent another major category. “Our Cedarhurst store had its best year ever this past year,” said Greenberg. “In the past three weeks, colleges sent out their early acceptances. We had mothers coming in to buy their kids school sweatshirts. One woman’s daughter had just gotten into Harvard, and when she came up to the counter with a Harvard sweatshirt, she burst into tears because she was so happy.”