Sports apparel retailer Lids announced this week that it's launching a new retail concept called Lids University, or Lids U, dedicated to apparel and sports products for the college market. Lids U, which was created as a space for fans to purchase products from their favorite schools, will open in key college markets and serve each local community they’re within. The first three stores opened on July 22 at Gurnee Mills in Chicago, the Mall of Georgia in Buford, Ga., and the San Marcos Premium Outlets in San Marcos, Texas. Lids plans to open 11 total Lids U stores in 2022, with more to follow in 2023 and beyond.
Each location, according to Lids, will feature a significant assortment of NCAA product with a curated selection of headwear, apparel and accessories from local, regional and national university and collegiate teams. Each store will also feature Lids’ signature Custom Zones, which allow consumers to custom-embroider products in-store.
Lids U marks a continuation of Lids' commitment to providing collegiate product to fans, including the retailer's presence on college and university campuses within the U.S. Lids operates Fanatics Lids College ("FLCL") which, in partnership with Fanatics, provides apparel, hard goods and backpacks to nearly 800 Barnes and Noble College Bookstores.
Total Retail's Take: So why is Lids tapping into the college sports market? Two reasons: One, it's lucrative. Consider that sales of licensed collegiate apparel reach an estimated $4.6 billion annually, according to IMG College Licensing. The second reason is because Lids reports that its loyal customers have been seeking more NCAA product from the retailer.
"We understand that our customers wanted to see more collegiate products in our stores, and we’re proud to now offer a space for consumers to shop the latest looks from their favorite collegiate teams," said Lawrence Berger, co-founder and partner at Ames Watson, owner of Lids, and chairman of FanzzLids Holdings, in a statement.