Spartan Gear Sells, Win or Lose

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Mere minutes after opening, the Student Book Store on Grand River Ave. in East Lansing was already hopping with Spartan fans, getting ready for the men's basketball team's Elite 8 match up with the University of Connecticut.

"It's a great year for the university, great year for the town and a great year for Michigan State," said Brad Ballein, manager of the Student Book Store.

And it's been a great year for Ballein's business. Money is still rolling in from the football team's Rose Bowl victory in January.

"It had been so many years since we'd been there," said Ballein. "There was pent up demand, people just had a demand for product. I mean they needed it, they wanted it and we had it."

Livonia resident Andy Barren went to the game in Pasadena and came back wanting a t-shirt. He confesses his closet is already "about halfway full" of Spartan gear, but he's always looking for more.

Barren said he'd even buy an Elite 8 shirt, once MSU stumbled ahead of the Final Four.

"I probably wouldn't get it right away, but certainly it's been a great season and it's a great class that [Head Coach Tom] Izzo's had so there's no reason not to celebrate," he said.

That's the Spartan loyalty Ballein says he's come to expect from MSU fans.

"They're fiercely loyal," he said. "Win, lose or draw they're still going to be Spartan fans and they're going to be proud of the boys and the season that they had."

The Student Book Store had pre-ordered some Final Four shirts, but they weren't printed. "If-win" orders will be nullified, Ballein said.

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