“So I guess we’re the LB squirrels?” Manfredi’s tweet read with a photo of the squirrel merchandise on display in the campus bookstore.
Kierstin Stickney, marketing and communications director for the 49er Shops, immediately debunked any rumors that there was any connection between the squirrel merchandise and the university choosing such a mascot.
“The bookstore is in no way promoting the squirrel as a mascot contender,” Stickney said.
The squirrels that scamper freely around LBSU have gained such a large fan base that students have created Instagram @squirrelsofcsulb and Facebook @CSULBSquirrels, pages for them. The two social media sites have a combined total of 3,063 followers and multiple students contributing photographs.
In response to their popularity, the 49er Shops first ordered squirrel merchandise in April 2017 for the fall 2017 semester, according to Stickney.
The display has been in the bookstore since October 2017, but recently received more media attention with the recent announcement that Prospector Pete would officially be retired as a mascot. In the last week, the display of hats and shirts relocated to the bottom of the staircase among backpack racks and a ball bin. It was previously displayed in the center of the bookstore in front of the staircase.
“Because the squirrel gear has been popular with our students, we were planning to expand our collection but [we] are currently holding off,” Stickney said. “We have taken the apparel offline and removed it from our promotional area until the mascot chatter dies down.”
Since the bookstore started selling squirrel gear a year ago, they have sold more than 320 hats, 100 t-shirts and 50 decals, according to Stickney.
Students can purchase caps, plushies, t-shirts and decals in the bookstore. The most expensive squirrel-inspired items are the twill caps which are $19.95 and can be purchased in either maroon or black. The cheapest items are the decals, which cost $4.95.
“I think it’s adorable. I’ve seen a lot of the squirrel hats being bought,” said Marina Castellanos, bookstore employee and English major.
Many students browsing the merchandise table had the same positive feedback.
“As merchandise, I think it’s really awesome … especially on the hats, the squirrel looks really sick,” said Joshua Harrison, second year business major.
Second year biology major Kailan Britton spotted the merchandise table from the second floor of the bookstore and came down to take a look.
“Love the squirrels. I like that they incorporated it,” Britton said. “I know we are changing [our mascot] but it would be really funny if we were all about squirrels because there are so many squirrels … I would buy [the merch] if there was a long sleeve.”
Despite their affinity for the furry creatures, both Castellanos and Britton did not think the squirrel mascot would fit sports teams.
With ideas still being thrown around, it’s still uncertain what the next mascot will be. Stickney made a suggestion on what she thought the next mascot should be.
“Is the banana slug still available?” Stickney asked.