Is Wal-Mart Undercutting Local Athletic Programs?

CHENEY – The start of the 2008 football season hits Thursday night, but if you’re looking to get into school spirit there’s at least one team on the West Plains that hopes you consider where you buy your gear from.

The Cheney Blackhawks are selling shirts out of their high school’s store. There’s another Cheney Blackhawks shirt out at the Airway Heights Wal-Mart. While both promote the Blackhawks only the proceeds from the shirt sold by the school goes back to the school.

Cheney High School Activities Director Jim Missel says that’s a problem.

“They can buy their stuff at a larger quantity and be able to sell it at a cheaper price.  It hurts us when this happens,” Missel said.

Right now Cheney High School is selling shirts, jackets and hats.

“We’re making a few bucks. It’s not going to support all our programs. It helps a little bit,” Missel said.

So Missel was pretty upset to hear that team gear for both Cheney and Medical Lake can be found at the Airway Heights Wal-Mart. At the store you can buy Medical Lake Cardinal shorts and t-shirts and Cheney Blackhawk t-shirts.

The schools don’t see a dime from the profits generated from sales of these items.

One problem is that the Cheney Blackhawks are not licensed which allows anyone including Wal-Mart to sell logo wear. The Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association encourages all schools to trademark their names with the Secretary of State but most of them have not.

“I wish they would help us out and realize they’re competing against our programs where we’re raising money four our athletic activities and programs,” Missel said.

Cheney High makes up to $10,000 a year on merchandise which goes to sports and other activities. Missel’s not looking for a fight, just cooperation.

“This is a business that’s in our district and I want to work with them. I don’t want to put them on one side and then us on the other,” Missel said.

A spokesman for Wal-Mart couldn’t speak specifically about Cheney’s situation, but said the company tries to give customers what they want at a good price, while still being a good neighbor. Wal-Mart does sell high school apparel at many stores.