U of I Alumni build Chicago Pop Up Store

According to John Garcia from ABC7, The University of Illinois is arguably one of the best basketball programs in the country to never have won a National Championship.

The team at Campus Ink hopes that changes this year so they built the Illini Store

Co-Founder of Campus Ink and alumni from the University of Illinois only saw a few quick tournament appearances during his tenure at Illinois from 2010-2014. After joining Campus Sportswear in 2015 after graduation and re-founding the company as Campus Ink, Steven Farag only heard stories of what it was like in 05. His business partner, Jedd Swisher, on the other hand, had printed over 35,000 oranges shirts for the 2005 Final Four.

As a company founded in 1947 on University of Illinois campus with 9 alumni on staff, the Campus Ink team decided to build an online brand called the Illini Store in October. The purpose of the store was to sell merch online and ship to Illini around the country.

When things started heating up this spring for Illini Basketball, they decided to turn it up a notch. Quickly, online sales began spiking as Illinois rose through the ranks.

The Campus Ink team knew they had to do more to get Illini basketball fans hyped for March Madness

To do that, the team secured a short term lease in the big city of Chicago and opened a store to sell Illinois shirts, jerseys, crews, and hoodies.

illini basketball store in lincoln park in chicago

Located at 1134 W. Armitage, an old Bar called Shoe's Pub was now vacant, and it fit the space perfectly. Gina Caruso from Lord Properties helped secure them a spot with the help of Kass Management.

In just a few days they had a keys and were ready to get to work.

Over the next three days the team took several trips to Home Depot and stocked up on a lot of orange paint. They decorated the space with history from the Fighting Illini including photos and prints from 89 Flying Illini and the 2005 Final Four team.

woman in illinois basketball hoodie holding a drill while building out an illinois basketball store in chicago

On Sunday the store opened and Illini fans wrapped the block to get their Illinois Merch. The crew in Urbana printed merchandise to stock them up while they fulfilled orders online. Team members drove back and forth from Central Illinois warehouse to keep the store stocked. When the game started, the crowd died down as fans went to watch the game. With an overtime win over Ohio State to win the Big Ten Championship the store erupted again with fans.

The Illini Store is an official vendor of the NCAA Final Four Tournament and will be producing shirts around the clock as Illinois advances to stages of the tournament. Fans can order online and items will be shipped in 3-5 days.

The Illini Store has a special t-shirt subscription that allows Illini basketball fans to receive a new shirt every step of the way.

Follow Campus Ink and the The illini Store to stay current on the store!

Hours for the store are

M-Thursday 4-6 pm
Friday 10-4 pm
Saturday & Sunday 12-6 pm