State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Bill O'Brien's Exit is Bad for Local Business

by on January 03, 2014 2:30 PM

The exit of former Penn State football coach Bill O'Brien is bad for business.

Numerous State College businesses invested in apparel and memorabilia lines when O'Brien came on board two years ago.

From T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts proclaiming "Billieve" to hats and decals declaring "O'Brien's Lions," local businesses embraced the new coach.

This week's abrupt exit of O'Brien not only left Penn State fans with a bad taste in their mouths, it also left a slew of essentially worthless merchandise in downtown shops.

Caroline Gummo, advertising manager for The Family Clothesline on East College Avenue, talked frankly with about the impact O'Brien's departure has had on the business.

"We weren't expecting him to be leaving Penn State so we did have a full inventory of those products...This is going to hurt the business because we're losing all of that inventory. It's not going to sell very well at this point," says Gummo. "We weren't expecting this. This will hurt us. The items were really popular."

Managers at McLanahan's Penn State Room and Lion's Pride declined to discuss the impact O'Brien's exit has had on their businesses. As of Friday afternoon, both businesses were still selling O'Brien items on their websites. An "O'Brien's Lions" T-shirt was half-price on the Lion's Pride site.

Gummo says Family Clothesline will keep the items on the shelves until students return from winter break to see if there's any interest. Still, she says the items are marked down.

"We're going to leave it on sale for awhile," Gummo says.

Sometimes, in situations like this, the business will donate the unwanted apparel, she says.

"We're not ready to make that decision yet. We're going to see if there still is any interest in that product," Gummo says.

Despite the hurdle, Gummo says she is optimistic that the hiring of a new coach could help the business. However, "that will depend on how quickly they make the decision and who the coach is," she says.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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