News » Whistler

Mittens-for-pins operation a concern to municipality

Ticket issued after RMOW received complaints



Bradley Colvin, a resident of Sooke, B.C., is a self-described "Pin Head" and his love of Olympic pins has spurred him to set up shop outside the official Olympic store in Whistler Village to work on his burgeoning pin collection.

With several pieces of black cloth adorned with myriad pins displayed on a wall at the edge of Village Stroll, Colvin and his grandson are running one of the biggest pin trading operations in Whistler. Among his different tactics to amass pins, Colvin has a collection of red mittens he is trading for rare pins - including the ones found within the Olympic Store.

But the man who has been to seven Olympic Games as a spectator has also run into roadblocks with Whistler's bylaw department over his quest to get pins. Almost every day, the bylaw department hassles him. He has been issued a $250 ticket because they allege he is running a business, he said.

"It is ludicrous," said Colvin. "Everybody is on a power trip."

He said he has never been hassled at an Olympic Games before for selling pins and he believes that if the bylaw department would relax, there would be 25 other big traders around him.

"It really makes me sad that these restrictions are stopping people who are spending so much money," said Colvin. "You have wonderful weather, and there is a good spirit, but there is no pin trading per se. I mean, there are a few things here and there, but a lot of people I talk to, they leave them in their room. I would say 80 per cent say that."

Colvin said it is important to have dozens of large pin traders set up during the Games to introduce new pins into the "market."

"If there were 25 pin traders here like there should be it would be a frenzy of pin trading, but it is very limited here," he said. "If somebody goes in and buys 10 pins in the Olympic store and someone else buys 10 pins, how can they trade? You have to introduce the athlete pins and the country pins."

The most valuable pins he said are country pins with Vancouver on them.

Sandra Smith from the Resort Municipality of Whistler confirmed her bylaw department has issued a ticket to Colvin for running a business.

"What he is allegedly doing, or what we have had complaints about, is because they (mittens) are such a hot item and sold out in the Olympic store, people want mittens. He sends them out to buy pins up to $30 in value and when they bring them out he gives them the mittens," she said. "This is what we are hearing second hand, and that is why we have issued one ticket when we did see money exchanged. Since that time, there haven't been the cash transactions."

Smith stated the municipality's bylaw officers do not have a problem with pure pin trading. They understand that pin trading is a popular hobby for a lot of people during the Olympic Games. More typical pin traders tend to have scarves with pins on them and as they walk through the village people stop them to admire their pins and swap pins, she said.

"This is just a bit different."

Colvin's position outside the official Olympic store was a hotbed of pin trading activity on Friday afternoon, with people from all over the world trading with him or others.

Tracy Robinson from California and Sean "Chavez" Holmes from Whistler were among the avid collectors. Wearing bright red pin scarves, they both explained this is their first time participating in the Olympic hobby.

"I am here by myself and I wanted to meet people," said Robinson. "I started off trading a flag, and then I traded a scarf and then I traded a backpack and a hat. I started off with merchandise and I traded for pins, and now I have all these pins."