CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nataline Suaris was wearing her favorite Charlotte 49ers shirt on Friday.
Channel 9's Gina Esposito asked if it has been hard finding more Niner gear in Charlotte.
"I found it in only, like, maybe one or two stores. They normally have other college apparel. They don't really have Niner things. I wish they had more, because I would buy a lot to represent the school," said Suaris.
Getting more Niner gear at Charlotte area stores is a goal of UNC Charlotte, especially since its football team is about to play for its first bowl eligibility game.
"Huge -- most important game in the history of Jerry Richardson Stadium," Deputy Athletic Director Chris Fuller said.
Fuller said big wins help with brand recognition. He said shirts at the campus bookstore with the words "Club Lit" have been selling really well, and it's because of the success of the football team.
"Club Lit" is named after a neon sign in the football team's locker room. It's part of the team's celebration after games.
Right now, stores like Target and Walmart carry Niner products, but they're competing for shelf space with teams like UNC Chapel Hill and Duke.
"We have an enrollment of almost 30,000 students now. We have almost 80,000 alumni in the Charlotte area, so there is an appetite for our product. We've got to educate the retailers about that demand, and then when the product gets in the store, it has to move," said Fuller.
Fuller said they've been working on a brand assessment project to find ways to make it easier for stores to carry their products.
By early next year, he said they hope to use it to influence more retailers. That way, fans don't have to go far to cheer on their team in style.
'I'll be there, hopefully, cheering us on to a victory versus Marshal. And hopefully, we'll be able to go to our first bowl game this year," said Suaris.
The game is on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Jerry Richardson Stadium.
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