On Saturday, the Clemson Tiger and the South Carolina Gamecock football squads will meet for the 113th time, dividing the Palmetto State’s college ball fans not only on the field but at the cash registers too.
Rivals: A Store Divided, a retail store on Trade Court in Florence painted half Gamecock garnet-and-black, half Clemson orange-and-purple, specializes in merchandise from both universities.
The store sells anything from jerseys to Christmas ornaments from each university throughout the year.
Tammy Cannon, an employee at Rivals, said fans of the team with a better record typically buy more of their team’s product during a winning season – especially football season. And right now the Tigers are sitting atop national polls with an 11-0 record, while the Gamecocks are reeling after loss of former coach Steve Spurrier with a meager 4-7 record.
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“This year Clemson’s sales have increased dramatically,” Cannon said. “It seems like the fans want to support their team more if they’re winning.”
She said that in years past South Carolina has sold more at Rivals, especially during a five-year winning streak from 2009 to 2013. This season, however, tells a different story.
“Carolina used to sell more and we always thought it was because their games are in Columbia, closer to Florence than Clemson,” she said. “This year Clemson has come back to prove they have just as many fans here. They’re winning more so they’re selling more.”
Chris Tucker, a diehard Clemson Tiger fan contemplating new orange paw-print floor mats at Rivals, said he shops for Clemson products every year but this season he’s a little prouder to fly the orange paw.
“I think Clemson is going to beat Carolina pretty bad this year. Might be a total domination and that makes me proud,” Tucker said. “If we have chance of taking the national championship, it’ll be this year. So anytime I can show off my team, I’m going to do it.”
Tonya Blackmon, a lifelong University of South Carolina fan clutching a garnet shirt, said even though the Gamecocks aren’t performing as well as she’d like this season, she’ll still show up anywhere decked out in her team’s colors
“This thing goes in cycles. Carolina will win for a few years, then Clemson will win for a few years. Right now Clemson is on their game and Carolina ain't,” she said. “But I’ll buy my new Gamecock shirt this year just like I have for the last 20 years and wear it whether they’re winning or losing.”
Kickoff for the Clemson v. South Carolina match-up is 12 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. The game will be broadcast ESPN and ESPN2.