MSU Walk-on Wednesday: Burnett takes thrift store approach to build successful business

October 10, 2017 8:36:18 PM

Brett Hudson - [email protected]


STARKVILLE -- The newest Mississippi State football t-shirt craze is originating from inside its locker room. 


The famous moment of MSU coach Dan Mullen at the podium after last year's Egg Bowl win, cigar tucked into the right corner of his mouth, has been plastered on a t-shirt and sold in the hundreds; it's all the brainchild of walk-on quarterback Logan Burnett. The growing enterprise is far from Burnett's first venture in entrepreneurship. 


"I've always tried to find little ways to make an extra buck here," Burnett told The Dispatch. 


His most recent venture with the t-shirts has the most reach of any of them, but this interest of his dates back to his days at Bessemer Academy, a small private school in Alabama in between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. 


Burnett got the idea from Trina Ludvik, a science teacher at Bessemer Academy. She would go to thrift stores and find old textbooks that she could purchase for a few dollars and turn around online for a significant profit. Given the prices of the online textbook market for college students, it stands to reason that she could sell the books for below the market rate and maintain a sizable profit margin since she bought it for a few dollars. 


Burnett took the idea and made a few dollars with it for himself. He didn't take it to the scale Ludvik did -- Burnett said Ludvik has turned it into a nearly full-time job and had to hire someone to help with the deliveries -- but Burnett managed to make some pocket money for gas and meals. 


Burnett didn't stop with textbooks. 


"I used to go to thrift stores and find old vintage jackets or anything I thought I could sell on eBay or get some interest from friends, maybe some vintage college teams, stuff like that," Burnett said. "Anything that I think I might wear that's kind of a retro brand, maybe Starter or Reebok, anything that looks kind of new but has that old-school look, in good condition. 


"It's crazy how much people will pay for that kind of stuff. If you look for a vintage Reebok pullover, you can find it on eBay for 60 bucks." 


Call it the gateway to his current model. 


The Mullen t-shirt explosion has reached the hundreds in terms of units sold and has only been in operation for a couple of months. It's gotten to the point where Burnett has gotten some help from friends in managing the demands. 


It has since grown to meet other markets: shirts for Alabama coach Nick Saban, LSU coach Ed Orgeron and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, in the same style of the shirt Burnett created, are all easy to find online. He's also had conversations with people at Ohio State, he said, to do the same for coach Urban Meyer. 


Burnett's strategy has been to pass off the operations for those other schools to people at those schools, to keep from overwhelming himself with his own ventures and the work that comes with being MSU's third-string quarterback. 


"I just focus on what's here," Burnett said. He said it regarding the Mullen t-shirts, but it's applied to Alabamian thrift stores, too. 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson