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How Soffe Shorts Saved Our Custom Cheer Apparel Business In The 90’s

ARES Sportswear Owner & Founder Mike Campbell recounts how Soffe Shorts helped establish our Cheerleading market, and our new online Cheer Store comes out this Black Friday!

Cheerleaders Are You Looking for Custom Apparel For Your Dance Team?

During a company meeting in March of 1999, we were planning on terminating our custom cheer apparel catalog. We didn’t know or understand how to connect with the cheerleading market, and we were rather blatantly failing at it. We understood how to impress basketball teams and football teams, and we were beginning to figure out a new sport called Lacrosse. However, our efforts to win the hearts and attention of cheerleaders were painfully non-effective; and at that time cheer teams barely even knew ARES Sportswear existed and they quite frankly didn’t take to liking our catalog.

In 1998 we mailed a custom cheer apparel catalog to every high school cheer coach in the country, and we ended up receiving about 30-40 total orders. 40 orders from 20,000 mailed catalogs is simply not enough to stay in business! So when we were in our spring meeting in March ‘99 discussing if we were going to hire models and photographers and shoot another custom cheer apparel catalog for the upcoming year, our team’s discussion about cheer shorts and custom apparel got serious.

“Let’s just kill the cheer catalog, they don’t buy anything,” our Marketing Director said. “We should spend our time making a bigger football catalog.”  

“Maybe we should just make a smaller cheer catalog and save some money,” our Head of Sales said. “That way we won’t be taking as big of a risk.”

Things were not looking good, and then our Head Merchandiser spoke up saying, “My daughter has been telling me all the cheerleaders at her school always wear Soffe shorts.”  

“What are Soffe shorts?” snapped back the Sales Manager. “Are they like mesh shorts?”

“No,” replied the Merchandiser. “Soffe shorts are a basic, simple cotton athletic short. They are cute and comfortable, they fit well, and they come in a lot of colors.”  

I was a bit skeptical, but we didn’t have any other good options. We added the Soffe Short to our 1999 Cheerleading Catalog, and we paired them with nearly every top we sold to create camp outfits, practice outfits and combo deals.

When we added Soffe shorts to our 1999 catalog, we thought it could maybe help us enough to keep producing a cheer catalog for one more year. Our expectations were low, but the actual result was that we grew our cheer team customers from 40 teams to 500 teams in one year. Personally speaking, I was shocked and amazed; and I clearly underestimated the power of the Soffe brand with cheer teams. By 2010 we had renamed our catalog Cheerlouder, and we tripled its size.

These days we sell custom cheer apparel to thousands of cheer teams and cheer gyms. Even though we sell into nearly 20 different sports markets, cheerleading is and has been our best performer for many years. We also fully expect cheerleading to be our strongest team apparel market for many years to come!

I am very grateful to this simple cotton athletic short that has been a staple of cheer camp and practice wear for many years. We are very lucky to do business with so many cheer teams around the country, and get to know just how great of people they all are! And if not for this short, our treasured friendships would have never come to fruition.

Mike Campbell

Owner & Founder, ARES Sportswear

Publisher of The Cheerlouder Catalog

Be Sure To Get Ready For ARES Sportswear’s Latest Online Cheer Store That’s Set To Be Released This Black Friday!

The ARES Sportswear team has something very special planned for cheer teams this Black Friday with our latest Cheer Store! This online store will feature 4 different types of Soffe shorts with an incredible amount of color options, and even Holiday designs!

The store will also offer really great deals on 8 different t-shirt designs for adult and youth sizes, as well as 10 Hoodie designs and 2 different types of sweatpants of varying colors. We’re all very excited to provide these apparel options for our cheer team clients as Holiday shopping starts to pick up, and we’re more than confident that you’ll be able to find awesome products to upgrade your team’s style!

We’re well prepared for a strong influx of online shoppers, so always be sure to get your shopping cart prepared ahead of time so you’re ready on Black Friday as prices drop! And of course always feel free to reach out to us online or call us at 800-439-8614 to get in touch with our team and let us know about any questions or concerns you have as you’re preparing you cheer team’s next order!

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