Started in the 1950’s as a way to protest the university putting Spring Break over St. Patrick’s Day, Green Beer Day has grown into a nationally known collegiate event that Miami students look forward to every spring. This year, Green Beer Day was ranked the third best St. Patrick’s Day party in the nation by the website BroBible. Although the focus of the day is the green beer, the other iconic green item you’ll spot at all the bars is a Green Beer Day T-shirt.
These shirts vary slightly in price depending on the distributor and design but average $20 each. Though it is impossible to accurately estimate the number of T-shirts sold every year, if even as few as one third of students purchase one T-shirt each, they would generate well over $100,000 in revenue. With all this money, there is tough competition among student distributors to sell the most.
Student distributers create original designs, order them through a number of different printing companies and then distribute them to students and organizations on campus via websites and Facebook pages. Some do it for a profit, others just do it for fun, but all compete to be the ones to see their designs on as many backs as possible around campus.
The sellers from www.greenbeerday2014.com claimed to have made over $1,000 strictly in profit off 500 shirts. Senior Kyle Asperger of the Green Beer Day 2014 Shirts GBD Facebook page made a lot less than that, but he was not very interested in the money.
“I’ve made shirts before for other situations, which is why we felt comfortable starting this process. It just seemed like a cool idea to see your shirt all over Uptown, and it was a way for my work as a graphic designer to be seen on campus,” Asperger said.
The T-shirt designs change every year, although shirts that were bestsellers the previous year are sometimes brought back. The shirts come in all different shades of green and usually reference a brand or current pop culture event. The people designing them say that coming up with creative shirts is a challenge.
“We used our same Vineyard Vines design that we had last year due to its popularity, and we created a monogram shirt as well,” said junior Molly Dougherty, who is selling shirts with two of her friends this year. “We think a lot about common brands on campus and current trends in pop culture; we want something that is relevant to students but also unique to us from other sellers.”
Many conflicts arise over the various Green Beer Day shirts since so many of the distributors come up with similar ideas based off the same pop culture events and common brands.
“I haven’t personally had anyone say that we stole their design, but a lot of the designs are based on ones from years past,” Dougherty said. “The sellers have designs that are similar and overlap topics because we base them off the same brands and pop culture. If our designs are considered copies, we definitely don’t mean them to be. It’s competitive to sell shirts and it doesn’t do anything for us to sell the same thing as someone else.”
Other distributors were in agreement on the similarity of designs.
“We had a great set of options and came up with all our own ideas,” senior John Claffy said. “A couple seemed to have similar themes to others companies but it was fine because they still sold.”
Claffy, along with fellow seniors Mike Norgard and Cole Tyman, sold over 300 shirts through Greenest Beer Company. They were able to offer their buyers a discount as a way to attract more business.
“I think what set us apart from other companies was the relationship we had with the T-shirt company which allowed us to not have any overhead. We were able to use the money from the orders to pay for the shirts so we didn’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket,” Claffy said.
Dougherty’s company, www.greenbeerdaymiami.com, offered several designs that were available on tank tops, T-shirts, long sleeve T-shirts, and sweatshirts. Their personal designs sold over 400 shirts, but she said with outside campaigns through clubs and organizations they sold well over 500.
“Since we work through University Tees, we don’t sell our shirts for profit. But if the clubs that buy through us, such as College Republicans, want to raise the shirt price and make a profit, they can do that,” Dougherty said.
University Tees, a national company that allows students to create and sell custom T-shirts, was founded by Miami University graduate Nick Dadas when he was a junior here in 2004. Dadas was inspired to create the company when he saw how greatly the campus needed a more organized T-shirt business, especially when it came to Green Beer Day. Now the company is used all over the country by schools and organizations.
“Since University Tees was founded here and supposedly inspired by Green Beer Day, they’re a great company to work for,” Dougherty said. “They recruit college students across the country to sell shirts on campuses, and since there is always someone there who has been working for awhile you never feel inexperienced or unorganized.”