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Get your Olympic clothes locally

Eight small retailers given chance to sell logo wear



By Alison Taylor

For the first time ever Olympic clothing will be sold throughout Whistler.

Eight Whistler retailers and Intrawest’s local retail outlets will be stacking their shelves with a limited selection of logo wear just in the nick of time for the Torino Olympic Games.

In a last minute deal the Hudson’s Bay Company offered local merchants the chance to sell select merchandise in conjunction with the 2006 Olympics, when interest in the gear is high. The offer was issued on Jan. 31.

Retailers had three days to respond and they didn’t waste any time.

“Literally within a couple of hours of it going out we were getting responses from retailers,” said Jim Reed, special consultant to Hbc and its Olympic strategy.

All the companies who applied will be sent limited orders of the logo wear. They were allowed to choose both the replica Canadian team wear and the 2010 logo wear.

It is expected they will be getting the bulk of what they ordered.

“It looks like we’ll be filling probably all the orders in their entirety,” said Reed.

The clothes will be available at: Summit Ski Bike & Board, Whistler Village Sports, Wild Willies, 49 th Parallel, McCoo’s, Whistler Clothing Company, Affinity Sports and Whistler Smile.

Reed said they are hoping to have the T-shirts, sweaters, and luggage in the resort by next week.

“We’re trying to turn it around very quickly because we want to get it out certainly during the Olympics,” said Reed.

The Olympic clothing line has been selling well, he added, and Hbc expects sales to continue to be strong as all eyes turn to Italy for the next two weeks.

“We certainly hope and expect that when the team marches in on the opening ceremonies this Friday that there will be even more interest (in the clothes),” said Reed.

He admits that they had to scramble to include Whistler retailers in time for Torino. Intrawest had negotiated a deal earlier and at the beginning of the year they were the only company in town with the go ahead to sell Olympic wear.

Then the Whistler Chamber of Commerce business readiness committee along with Jim Godfrey, Whistler’s Olympic point man, stepped in.

They brokered a meeting with Hbc and local retailers in mid January, after which Reed flew to Toronto to do an inventory check and realized they could send Whistler retailers select items on a first come first serve basis.

This will not be the process in the years to come Reed stressed. Hbc, which is not in the wholesale business, will be developing a long term plan outlining how they will deal with areas, like Whistler, that do not have Bay stores or affiliates.

“On this very short term we’ve kind of pulled out all the stops just to make sure that we could get some product in the marketplace in short order,” said Reed. “But we certainly wouldn’t contemplate operating this way in the future in the long term.”

In the long term he predicts it will be an extensive program and the full line of products will be available in Whistler.

Reed said he appreciated the patience from local merchants and added that work will begin on the long-term strategy not long after Torino.

“We will turn out mind to starting to prepare and develop our long term plans around Beijing (the 2008 Olympics), not too long after Turin,” he said. “And of course, 2010 is what we’re all marching towards.”

Hbc has the exclusive $100 million partnership with the Olympics to provide the official clothing until the 2012 Games.