The University of Utah will be closing its Red Zone retail stores after the year 2017. The Utah Board of Regents decided Friday to allow the stores to complete their contracts. The decision comes in light of a 2013 audit that accused the stores of unfairly competing with private businesses.
The Red Zone stores in Sandy, West Jordan and Layton contract with local suppliers to sell University of Utah merchandise like hats and hoodies. The audit shows the locations have sold $1.9 million worth of merchandise. Maria O’Mara is a spokeswoman for the university. She says U of U President David Pershing is eager to comply with state guidelines that say publically funded institutions cannot compete with private businesses.
“At the same time we want to be responsive to the University Community and our supporters who are glad to say are very proud of their affiliation with the U,” O’Mara says. “We know they’re looking for a convenient way to find this particular merchandise. In the meantime as we wind down the particular leases at these locations, we’ll be looking for a way to be able to respond to that demand.”
O’Mara added the products are not priced to undercut private businesses.
In addition to Red Zone stores, O’Mara says about 70 percent of all U of U brand merchandise is currently sold by off-campus vendors like Best Buy, Smith’s and Wal-Mart.