What's in a name? Plenty, when it comes to the Owens Community College bookstore where Owens items are zooming off the shelves.
The sudden surge in popularity for sweatshirts, t-shirts, and other things emblazoned with "OWENS" is linked at this time of the year to not only alumni holiday gift purchases, but to folks whose last name is the same as the college's first name.
Several Owens family members in Texas (shush, now, don't tell them) soon will find hundreds of dollars' worth of Owens merchandise under their Christmas tree.
The college's bookstore gets requests for Owens merchandise from Owens families across the country throughout the year, but during the shopping season leading up to Christmas, the demand soars.
Just think about it - personalized gifts with no extra charge for putting the Owens name front and center on t-shirts or sweatshirts. And you don't have to worry that the college will mess up and print it as "Oewns."
Doesn't take a college degree to figure out that that's pretty smart thinking on the part of all of those Owens folks.
When Judi Streepey, of Lexington, Ky., was searching for something to buy for her sister - who married a man whose last name is Owens - she found a mention of Owens Community College online. She made a telephone call and was pleasantly surprised to find that the college's bookstore was brimming with all things Owens.
She stocked up, ordering more than $400 worth of hats and t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts and tumbler cups and "two of the cutest ice scrapers. The part you scrape with is a shoe, a basketball or baseball shoe, and the top part is shaped like a baseball or basketball," said Mrs. Streepey. To top it off, it says "Owens Express" on the handle. The college's nickname for its sports teams is Owens Express.
All of the items will be wrapped and sent to Mrs. Streepey's sister, who has a large family, in Texas.
Mrs. Streepey was particularly pleased to link the Owens' family gifts to a college. "I like to focus on education. I think it is important to be supporting any kind of education. Kids walking around with any college name on [their clothing] is encouraging," she said.
She predicts that the Owens clan will love the Owens items. "One thing so cool is the Owens Express decal," she said. "My sister driving a van load of kids with Owens Express on the back just kind of says it all. I think it will be fun."
People named Owens call the campus bookstore to purchase shirts, ball caps, and other items for family reunions, said Rebecca Drayton, manager of the bookstore at Owens' campus in Perrysburg Township. Owens items also are popular at the bookstore at the college's Findlay campus.
A man from Idaho gets Owens shirts "for everyone for their family reunion," Ms. Drayton said, and a family in Hawaii has bought Owens hooded sweatshirts for their Owens relatives. "We do have repeat business. The Owens family reunion man from Idaho has called again, and he says he will call every year," Ms. Drayton said.
Of course, alumni flock to the bookstore at holiday time to purchase Owens-themed gifts. And, Ms. Drayton expects a full house at the bookstore tonight , graduation night. She expects to sell $500 worth of Owens merchandise in 45 minutes.
New students stock up on Owens clothing, too, such as Rachel Hassen, 16, of Sylvania Township, who will begin classes through a post-secondary option program at Owens beginning in January.
Last week her mother stopped by the bookstore to buy Rachel a black sweatshirt with "Owens" in hot pink letters.
It wasn't Rachel's first Owens college item. Rachel bought other Owens clothing when she learned that she would be taking classes at the college. "I love all the Owens gear. It is very cute. I love it. It's fun and comfy," said Rachel.
Oh, did we mention? Her mother's maiden name is Owens.