The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Eau Claire Vintage provides NIL sponsorships to two Blugold athletes

How a local small business gave Division III athletes a platform
Photo by Russell Teske
Eau Claire Vintage’s storefront on Farwell Street in downtown Eau Claire.

On April 1, Eau Claire Vintage, a vintage clothing store in downtown Eau Claire popular with college students, announced via their Instagram page that they were doing a Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) partnership with three western Wisconsin athletes.

The athletes included UW-Eau Claire’s third-year soccer player Will Heinen and first-year track and field athlete Libby Huber. The third athlete was UW-Stout’s Maja Anderson, a second-year volleyball player. 

UW-Eau Claire alum and former football player Mike Shoultz founded EC Vintage in June 2020, and the store opened its brick-and-mortar storefront July 2023. He said this partnership began once the company had grown to what it is now nearly a year later thanks to Eau Claire athletics.  

“When the company had grown to a place where it was able to sponsor athletes, and give back to the same reason that got me here, that would be something that I wanted to do,” Shoultz said. 

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Heinen said this partnership represents an opportunity both as a student and as a longtime supporter throughout his time at UW-Eau Claire.  

“I would say personally it provides me with a great relationship with a great company that I’ve been supporting since I’ve gotten here at Eau Claire,” Heinen said. “To create a relationship with a company and a brand that I believe in, it’s something that’s truly special to me personally.”

With Huber, she said the NIL deal represents a way for the Eau Claire community to see and bring attention to her respective sport and others. 

“I think it’s a really good way for the community to see my sport,” Huber said. “More people are going to want to come and watch track or watch soccer or watch volleyball.”

Shoultz said that Heinen and Huber reached out to Eau Claire Vintage after he put out a message via the store’s Instagram page.

“They reached out to us. We put an Instagram story up, basically a call for action,” Shoultz said.  “They have a good social media presence, they’re local, they have shopped at Eau Claire Vintage before so they were familiar with us, and it was really a perfect match.”

When it comes to the perception of NIL deals, they are largely centered around Division I athletes and schools. Shoultz said he wanted to change that perception.

“We thought what would make the most sense for us and our business was partnering with local schools in the Chippewa Valley,” Shoultz said. “The fact that these schools are DIII or not, division doesn’t really matter to me. We just want to find people interested in vintage clothing.”

Heinen said that this new perception has allowed him to create a bigger platform for himself online. 

“Social media presence would be a big perk for me,” Heinen said. “Just me following them and getting promoted on their page, I already gained a bunch of followers.”

For Huber, the main perk would be the special discounts on store clothing for both herself and her friends.  

“I get free clothes quarterly, just like a couple outfits that they give us,” Huber said. “I get 20% off, and any friends that I bring in with me also receive that 20% off.” 

After a positive reception on the initial NIL offering, Shoultz said he is open to taking the next big step both within and beyond the western Wisconsin market.  

“We’re going to test run this, we’re going to see how it goes,” Shoultz said. “If it goes well, we would love to expand within UWEC, within UW-Stout and then further.”   

Teske can be reached at [email protected].

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