Spokane Journal of Business

‘Programs! Get your programs …’

Games Gone Bye Inc.

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When Ray Hare was a kid living on Spokanes North Side, he tacked to his bedroom walls some of the Gonzaga University football game programs from his fathers playing days in the late 1930s.

Many program collectors, as Hare has become, might cuss themselves in hindsight for devaluing such treasures, which now would be worth $50 to $100 apiece if not for tack holes and other tatters.

That doesnt concern Hare much, though. He wouldnt sell them anyway. Sentimental value aside, it wouldnt make business sense.

Hare and his family have been highly successful in selling reproductions of those nostalgic college-football program coversand others hes collected over the yearsthrough Games Gone Bye Inc.

The company, which Hare and his wife, Helen, formed in October 1998 with Rays cousin, Kyle Hare, mats and frames prints of old program covers and sells them wholesale to universities from which it has obtained copyright and licensing agreements. It also has started selling posters, calendars, and mugs featuring the nostalgic images.

Through its first 18 months, Games Gone Byes sales have exceeded projections, Hare says, as the company has sold more than 500 framed-and-matted prints and about 10,000 additional nostalgia-printed items.

The three owners have operated the enterprise as a home-based business on a part-time basis, but due to the companys fast start, Hare plans to retire this summer from his job as assistant principal at Cheney High School and focus full time on Games Gone Bye.

The company currently has contracts only with Gonzaga, Washington State University, and the University of Idaho, but expects that list to grow quickly, says Hare, who is president of Games Gone Bye. It hopes to ink agreements with the University of Washington, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, University of Montana, and Montana State University before football season starts this fall, he says. It already has met with UW officials and expects to have an agreement with that university by the end of this month.

Tapping further into Hares collection of 700-some programs, all but about a dozen of which he has accumulated during the past 10 years, Games Gone Bye hopes eventually to market its products to other Pacific 10 Conference and West Coast Conference schools, then to schools in other parts of the country.

The long-term goal is to take it as far as we can, knowing this could be of national significance for us, Hare says. We have not had any doors shut on us yet.

While Games Gone Bye can reproduce program covers just from Hares collection to make products for most West Coast schools, it will check into creating program-related merchandise for schools from which it doesnt have programs, Hare says. In such cases, the company could borrow programs from a universitys archives, reproduce the covers, and develop merchandise.

In addition to dealing directly with universities, Games Gone Bye could sell its products to any retailer licensed to sell a universitys gear and could retail the products directly, but it hasnt pursued either of those avenues yet. Helen Hare says the company wants to nurture its relationships with the schools before competing with them.

The three owners of Games Gone Bye mat and frame the prints themselves. Graphic designer Chris Reister, of Spokane, scans the program covers and enhances them electronically, cleaning up any blemishes or unwanted marks or stains. Lawton Printing Inc., of Spokane, prints the cover reproductions.

Games Gone Bye initially envisioned selling its products on the Internet.

We decided against that though, Helen Hare says. You hear about all these e-commerce businesses, and it sounds inviting, but when you get into boxing and wrapping and shipping, its a lot of work.

The company has a web site, but routes potential customers to university web pages for ordering information.

Alumni connection

A universitys bookstore, alumni association, and athletic department typically are interested in Games Gone Byes products.

The Gonzaga University Alumni Association, for instance, ordered several copies of a calendar made by Games Gone Bye to give to alumni during a recent membership drive, says Marty Pujolar, alumni director at Gonzaga. The calendar features all 12 months on one long, framed print with a small reproduction of a program next to each month.

If I had to characterize their products, Id say theyre very high quality and theyre very classy, Pujolar says. Ive seen many, many of those calendars hanging in offices all over Spokane.

He says the university also was hugely successful in selling a contemporary-themed poster that Games Gone Bye produceddeviating from the companys nostalgic game-program nicheto commemorate Gonzaga Universitys memorable run in the NCAA mens basketball tournament last year. Pujolar says he had a hard time keeping his personal copy of the framed poster in his office. Visiting alumni would inquire about obtaining a copy, and since part of Pujolars job is keeping alumni happy, he would give them the poster off his wall. After that happened a number of times, he began keeping his copy of the poster in a closet.

To sell its products, Games Gone Bye must have permission from a university to use the copyrighted program covers, and it must be licensed to sell the products. Some schools handle their own licensing agreements, but most large universities go through national licensing companies, such as Collegiate Licensing Co., which handles licensing for Gonzaga and UI, and Licensing Research Group, which handles it for WSU.

Games Gone Bye must report its sales to those companies on a regular basis and pay royalties to each school through its licensing company. The royalties are a percentage of the companys gross sales, usually around 7 percent to 8 percent, Helen Hare says.

Now that Games Gone Bye has established relationships with those major licensing companies, Hare says it will be easier to add universities, so long as the schools approve use of their art.

Gridiron legacy

The programs in Hares personal collection mostly are from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s and almost exclusively are from college football games. Hare says hes looked at programs from other sports, but hasnt collected them because he doesnt think they are as attractive as the ones for football games. Also, he also doesnt think football covers printed after 1950 have artwork of as high a quality as that on the older programs.

Of course, Hares inclination toward football memorabilia likely stems from his deep roots in the game.

Hares father, Ray Sr., and his uncle, Cecil Hare, both now deceased, played college football at Gonzaga in the late 1930sGonzaga canceled its football program in 1941and professionally for the Washington Redskins in the early and mid-1940s. Both were 60-minute men, meaning they played both offense and defense in each game, he says. In 1942, the Hare brothers played for the Redskins world champion team.

Hare says he also has two uncles who played football for Santa Clara (Calif.) University in the 1950s, and carrying on the family tradition, he himself toiled in the pits of The University of Montanas offensive line in the late 1960s.

Hare has worked in education in the Spokane area for the past 28 years, and throughout his career has coached with high school sports.

Kyle Hare played football with him at Gonzaga Prep and now works as a salesman at Spokane Wall Systems Inc.

Helen Hare works part time at Lee & Hayes PLLC law firm, of Spokane.

The original programs from Hares fathers playing days still hang on walls in the Hares basement recreation room. Now, however, the thumbtacks have been removed and the old programs are in frames behind glass, preserved for posterity and business prosperity alike.

Linn  Parish
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Editor Linn Parish has worked for newspapers and magazines since 1996, with the bulk of that time being at the Journal. A Montana boy who has called Spokane home for some time now, Linn likes Northwest trails, Deep South foods, and lead changes in the ninth inning.

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