Stock up on discounted Vandy gear at Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt has customized black and gold apparel from a wide variety of vendors, including Ralph Lauren. (John Russell/Vanderbilt)

Vanderbilt’s football home opener may be two months away, but at Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt, Commodore fans are already gearing up for fall with great deals on officially licensed merchandise – from flip-flops to headgear and more­.

(Joe Howell/Vanderbilt)

The expansive two-level campus bookstore, which opened last November in the former Borders on West End Avenue, has the largest selection of black and gold apparel in the country, and is quickly becoming a destination for Vanderbilt fans in Tennessee and beyond.

“No matter what your budget, we have just about anything a Vanderbilt fan could want,” said Stephanie R. Smith, general merchandise manager.

Start stocking up now for Vanderbilt’s College Colors day, which takes place on Aug. 30 to coincide with Vanderbilt’s home opener against South Carolina at 6 p.m. It’s a “blackout” game, so fans are encouraged to wear black to this exciting matchup that kicks off the SEC collegiate football season. Purchases of black apparel between July 11 and Aug. 30 will qualify for a 10 percent discount for the general public, and faculty/staff will continue to get their 10 percent discount on all purchases at the bookstore (not both).

These Haivaiana flip-flops are priced under $30. (John Russell/Vanderbilt)

If you haven’t been to the new bookstore since the grand opening, you may be surprised to see there are even more popular name brands on the store’s racks, including Ralph Lauren, Hurley, Under Armour, Havaiana, Nike and Vineyard Vines. Ralph Lauren Polo shirts, emblazoned with the Vanderbilt logo on the sleeve, are just one of the newer products that have been popular.

“We can’t keep the Ralph Lauren shirts in stock,” said Smith. “The Vanderbilt consumer, generally speaking, likes a very simple product. Anything with a busy design just doesn’t sell as well as something with a classic, timeless look.”

One of the bookstore's top sellers, official ball caps worn by Commodore baseball team. (courtesy of Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt)

But not all of the top-selling products come with a high-end price tag. The reasonably-priced Vanderbilt baseball caps are one of the store’s most popular items.

The broad selection of hats includes the style worn by the Vanderbilt baseball team on regular game days, and the red, white and blue version they wear for Sunday games. Other merchandise priced at under $30 includes the top-selling classic logo tee shirts, as well as aviator sunglasses and Havaiana flip-flops.

The best way to stay in the loop on special sales, new product lines, promotions and in-store events is at the bookstore’s Facebook page.

“Be sure to keep an eye out for exclusive sales by ‘liking’ us on Facebook,” Smith said.

Hurley is a new brand being featured at the bookstore in Vanderbilt's colors of black and gold. (John Russell/Vanderbilt)

Currently, a summer sale is in progress. If you buy two items in the store, you can purchase a striped beach tote for only $9.95, while supplies last. In addition, many apparel items are deeply discounted on the clearance rack.

“We have a lot of clearance right now as we are moving this year’s designs for the new fall ones,” Smith said.

Be sure to visit the bookstore on Wednesday, July 11, 6-8 p.m., for a special unveiling of the new 2012 Vanderbilt football jersey. Coaches and players are scheduled to attend, and several of the seniors are slated to model the new uniform in a fashion show at the event. Attendees can register for a game-worn jersey autographed by head coach James Franklin.

Also look for a greatly expanded merchandise kiosk sponsored by Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt at home football games, starting with the home opener, which will be broadcast on ESPN.

by Sydney K. Smith and Joan Brasher