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Calvin Campus Store Sells Harry Potter Ties
originally published on December 11, 2002
updated, including new links, on July 9, 2007
July 2007 Editor's Update: Calvin's Brenda Hoeksema reports that in July 2007 the Calvin College "Harry Potter tie" continues to be a good seller for the Calvin Campus Store. In fact on July 9 alone a quartet of the ties was sold! And, says Hoeksema: "The past two months we have sold about 40 ties, double what we sold in the previous two months."

Type "maroon and gold tie" into a search engine such as Google or Yahoo and the first website URL that is displayed goes to the Calvin College Campus Store where one of the items for sale, and pictured, is a maroon and gold, diagonally striped tie.

Calvin's Harry Potter tieWhy is this significant? Because, lately, Harry Potter fans have been typing that phrase into search engines and finding Calvin's site, joyfully finding Calvin's site says clothing buyer Brenda Hoeksema.

"Maroon and gold are the colors that Harry Potter wears in the movies," says Hoeksema. "And Harry Potter fans want the tie he wears. When they find that we have pretty much the exact tie you see in the movie they get really excited."

Indeed one fan from California was quite excited. He was looking for two maroon and gold, diagonally striped ties for his kids and had struck out on previous attempts. When Hoeksema told him she indeed had the tie pictured on the Calvin website and had it in stock he blurted out "I love you."

The happily married Hoeksema says it's a sentiment she doesn't hear too often from shoppers.


2005 GR Press review of Half Blood Prince by English professor Don Hettinga

2001 Spark piece on Harry Potter controversies

The Harry Potter Lexicon -- a site begun by Calvin graduate Steve VanderArk

A piece on prophecy and predestination in Harry Potter for BeliefNet by philosophy professor James K.A. Smith

"It's been kind of fun," she says, of the sudden run on Calvin ties (and the excitement surrounding them). Hopefully when they (Potter fans) come to our website they look around a little too and find out more about Calvin."

In the last two months Hoeksema has sold 20 maroon and gold ties, including six with horizontal stripes and 14 diagonals. That's triple the number of diagonal ties she's sold in previous years. But in previous years the ties were not pictured on the Calvin website. The images went up for the first time this fall. And so did sales.

Hoeksema says the images were not timed to coincide with the new Harry Potter movie. "We just wanted to add more (images) to the (store) website," she says.

And how does Calvin, one of the country's top Christian colleges, feel about its accidental association with Harry Potter, criticized in some religious circles for its wizards and spells.

Well, last year the Calvin alumni magazine, Spark, did a feature story on Harry Potter. In that piece, Calvin English professor Don Hettinga said of the books: "I think they're great. The stories are engaging, but beyond that there is a moral dimension. There are some very worthwhile themes in the book. Kids who are 'outsiders' and then become the heroes; that's the stuff of a good story. The books are formulaic with predictable characters, but there's always a surprise in the end. The evil figure is never who you thought it would be."

And Calvin vice president of enrollment and external relations Tom McWhertor says: ""Harry Potter seems to be a bright student who's also humble and willing to help a friend. So he's the kind of student we have at Calvin. And he wouldn't have to buy a new necktie to come here."

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