Even the most casual observer understands that Stillwater is the epitome of a proud college town. Oklahoma State fans are loyal on a level unmatched by any other. When we say we bleed orange, we mean it. The cowboy spirit lives inside nearly every single resident of this great town. Many of us come here for higher education and become anchored by the family atmosphere. The Oklahoma State University spirit is fostered by generational legacies; OSU tends to run in the family. One of the cornerstones of Stillwater life is Chris’ University Spirit, located mere steps from campus.
On Thursday, September 1 Chris’ University Spirit celebrated 30 years serving the Stillwater community, Oklahoma State University fans, and visitors to America’s Friendliest College Town. Chris Norris, an Idabel native and second generation Oklahoma State University graduate, founded Chris’ University Spirit in 1986. He grew up working in his father’s department store during the summers and Christmas vacations until he graduated from OSU. With assistance from his father, Norris purchased his first business.
Originally known as Balfour House and carrying predominantly Greek apparel and novelties, Norris purchased the 1,800 square foot business from Stillwater resident, Mikki Couch. By 1991 the property to the north became available and the business expanded to carry OSU merchandise.
In order to keep up with local demand, a 2,500 square foot warehouse and screen printing operation was added to the business operations, as well as an expanded OSU retail selection enhanced by the addition of in-house graphic artists. In 1998, Chris’ expanded into sporting goods and remodeled the façade. Then in 2004, more retail space was added again. Adjusting to the local market, in 2014 Norris phased out of sporting goods and expanded back into the Greek market while adding OSU retail space and merchandise options.
“I’ve learned a lot about the retail business over the past 30 years and the impact the success of OSU athletics has on the Stillwater community and specifically my operations,” said Norris. “We were way too conservative when estimating the amount of merchandise to produce when the men’s basketball team made it to the Final Four back in 2004. However, we are now much more accurate in our estimates when gauging the impact Cowboy and Cowgirl successes will have on our sales.”
Today, Chris’ University Spirit offers the largest selection of Oklahoma State merchandise available and is a local hot spot during events that attract large numbers of visitors to the community. Located on campus corner, across the street from the campus of OSU, Chris’ is where you will find large groups of anxious fans, graduates, and event attendees throughout the year.
“We can offer a lot more selection for our loyal customer base today with the production of unique designs and custom clothing,” stated Norris. “And it definitely enhances our options by increasing to 5,000 square feet of retail space.”
Priding themselves on unique apparel designs and merchandise, the Chris’ University Spirit Team strives to ensure every visit equates to a quality customer experience.
For more information, go to www.chrisuniveristyspirit.com.