University Spirit closing after 37 years

WEST LAFAYETTE — University Spirit has sold Purdue University-branded spirit wear and accessories to the Greater Lafayette community for more than 37 years.

But University Spirit’s days at the Chauncey Hill Mall are coming to an end.

“It was a great 37-year run but it is time to call it quits,” said Gary Edmonson, owner of the Golden Corporation, which owns University Spirit.

Edmonson indicated in a notice that University Spirit will shutter by the end of November. Until recently, University Spirit also had a Tippecanoe Mall location 

“Since we are a locally owned and operated company, this decision was not easy,” the notice read. “With the retail and campus landscape changing on a national and local basis with Amazon and other internet options, closing was the only option.” 

Paul Griggs is a managing partner of Gold Sail, the Lafayette-based alternative asset management firm that owns the Discount Den, just a few doors down from University Spirit in Chauncey Hill Mall. In addition to convenience store items and other goods, the Discount Den sells Purdue-branded merchandise. 

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Griggs said he doesn’t think online retail is a threat to the Discount Den. 

“I’ve heard a lot of places like University Spirit give this excuse … but I think it’s a failure to adapt their business model to online, which is definitely something that keeps me up at night but it’s also that fear that pushes me to think of ways to refine our business model,” Griggs said. 

He added that the Discount Den is in a unique position because it has a smaller physical footprint than University Spirit or the University Book Store and can provide more targeted services while also focusing on online revenue. 

“We’re really excited about the order online and pick-up in store feature,” Griggs said. “What helps businesses like the Discount Den over University Spirit or the University Book Store is our business model is much more nimble.” 

University Spirit has been embroiled in several recent lawsuits. Harry’s Chocolate Shop recently brought legal action against Golden Corporation before suddenly dropping the lawsuit. Edmonson did not respond to repeated interview requests and consequently was unavailable to address the impact these lawsuits had on his decision to close University Spirit. 

University Spirit is currently running a 50 percent liquidation sale, which will continue until the end of this week. 

Griggs said it’s a shame to see a fixture of the West Lafayette and Purdue retail landscape go under after so many years but, at the same time, it’s a development that will ultimately benefit places like the Discount Den. 

“Once their doors are closed the people that went in and were patrons there, they’re still going to be here every day, every weekend and every football game,” Griggs said. 

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