CAMEX brings thousands of college retailers to SLC

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SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of people are in Salt Lake City this weekend to attend the CAmpus Market EXpo — an annual educational conference and trade show that deals with everything students and fans will find in a college bookstore.

More than 500 manufacturers have set up exhibit booths at the Salt Palace Convention Center for the five-day event, which began Friday. The showcase of products includes everything from dorm supplies to logoed hoodies and mugs, and even health and beauty supplies.

Campus store operators attend to buy the latest logoed gear and supplies to have on the shelves come fall semester.

With over 35,000 campuses nationwide, this is a “$10 billion industry,” according to Andrew Kitzenburg, CEO of OnHand Teach Accessories, a small tech accessories company in Boston.

Every year, several thousand people who run those stores meet with manufacturers to see what’s new.

“This is the campus store industry's largest show,” said Jenny Febbo, vice president of marketing and strategic communications for the National Association of College Stores, which produces CAMEX.

While it’s evident at school sporting events, where fans and teams are decked out in their team colors and logos, it's not just hats and shirts anymore. The industry for school-themed accessories has now spread to include banners, flags, baby clothes, pillows, shoes and bags.

According to Kitzenburg, students play a role in what campus stores will stock.

“We sit down, talk with students, figure out what they’re interested in, what styles and colors and features they want out of their tech products, and we design it for them,” Kitzenburg said.

His company's products can be found in about a thousand bookstores — his biggest outlet. So being at CAMEX is important to Kitzenburg and others in the industry.

Logoed items are fun for the fans for sure, but the sales of these items provide a major revenue stream for schools large and small.

“One of the missions of the campus store is to generate revenue that goes back into the campus to help pay for programs,” Febbo said. “In many cases that’s financial aid (and) facilities renewal.”

That means even packages of logged ping pong balls can help add to a school’s bottom line.

For more information on the expo visit

Contributing: Freeman Stevenson


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