Mit­tens, mas­cots, hand­made ca­noe? Best of Cana­di­ana kitsch on of­fer at Olympic su­per­store

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIED -

VAN­COU­VER (CP) — It’s telling that the of­fi­cial re­tailer of the Van­cou­ver Win­ter Games gear stocks plenty of um­brel­las, rain gear and even wa­ter­proof jack­ets for the fam­ily dog.

It’s not your typ­i­cal Olympic wear, but wel­come to the Wet Coast of Canada.

With days left be­fore the Games be­gin, shop­pers are al­ready zigzag­ging through the Olympic su­per­store that has nearly taken over the first floor of The Bay in down­town Van­cou­ver.

In ad­di­tion to Team Canada wear and the plush Olympic mas­cots, there is no short­age of Cana­di­ana kitsch among the of­fi­cial Games gear.

Al­though vis­i­tors to Van­cou­ver are more likely to slip on flower blos­soms than snow, there are the req­ui­site mit­tens, moose sweaters and the ear-sav­ing trap­per hat. And why not? It’s Canada, eh. Some 10,000 Olympic vis­i­tors are ex­pected to cram the store come Feb. 12, the day of the open­ing cer­e­monies.

Cashiers at 24 ter­mi­nals aim to make one trans­ac­tion per minute, daily, un­til the clos­ing cer­e­monies Feb. 28. A mul­ti­lin­gual army of up­wards of 400 will staff the flag­ship store dur­ing peak days.

“It’s weird see­ing (the Bay) as a tourist lo­ca­tion,” says Kelsey Re­gan, 25, as he tries to help his girl­friend find a red Team Canada hoodie, only to be told the day’s ship­ment was snapped up in 20 min­utes ear­lier in the morn­ing.

Diogo De Oliveira, 27, who just ar­rived in town with an en­tourage from Switzer­land, mugs amidst tow­ers of plush Olympic mas­cots, in­clud­ing sasquatch Qu­atchi.

“It’s for my sis­ter and my girl­friend,” he says. “Maybe even me too!”

So far the hottest sell­ing item has been the red knit mit­tens, sold in HBC stores across Canada for $10 a pair.

“It’s a good time to shop now, to do last-minute shop­ping,” says Maria Dru­gov­eiko, wav­ing two pairs of the mit­tens — for her and her hubby.

More than two mil­lion of the mit­tens — em­bossed with a Maple Leaf in the palm and the Olympic rings on the front — have al­ready flown off the shelves na­tion­wide.

A fi­nal ship­ment of the item, mar­keted as the Games ’it’ sou­venir, are to ar­rive at stores across Canada this week.

There are thou­sands of other items for sale, the cheapest a 56cent post­card and one of the most ex­pen­sive a hand-crafted, $7,500 ca­noe sus­pended over­head from the store’s rafters.

There are red-and-white Team Canada clothes, blue, green, and white 2010 clothes, and the an Olympic medal-in­flu­enced abo­rig­i­nal line on of­fer.

In one cor­ner of the 1,890square me­tre store hang the con­tro­ver­sial knit sweaters pro­duced as part of HBC’s of­fi­cial line of Olympic cloth­ing. HBC paid Olympic or­ga­niz­ers mil­lions for exclusive rights to stock bona fide Games swag.

Yet in an­other cor­ner, the au­then­tic Cowichan sweaters hand-knit by abo­rig­i­nal knit­ters on Van­cou­ver Is­land lie neatly folded on shelves. De­spite the exclusive Olympic deal the re­tailer has ca­pit­u­lated and in­cluded the un­li­censed Cowichan sweaters af­ter the abo­rig­i­nal knit­ters an­grily sug­gested that HBC’s own line of sweaters were made to look like the tribe’s hand-knit ver­sion.

A Bay spokes­woman says that wasn’t the case, though they both fea­ture West Coast an­i­mal sil­hou­ettes.

An­other en­tire store sec­tion has also been de­voted to sell­ing team uni­forms from other par­tic­i­pat­ing Games coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ger­many, Great Bri­tain, France, Rus­sia and the U.S.

“This has never ever hap­pened in the his­tory of the Olympics,” says spokes­woman Dana Hall.

Be­side the plethora of of­fi­cial Olympic key­chains, watches and lunch­box cool­ers, Olympic pin col­lec­tors, who trade their sou­venirs from Games present and past, can be found in their own des­ig­nated area.

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