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No superstore in Whistler during Olympics

Godfrey says other retail possibilities being explored, though nothing confirmed

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There will not be a superstore in Whistler during the Olympics in 2010.

That was a point driven home by Jim Godfrey, Whistler’s executive director for the 2010 Winter Games when asked this week about rumours of such a store being opened on the Whistler Golf Course driving range during the Games.

“In previous Games, the organizing committees have tended to have superstores, which are significant stores of about 20,000 square feet plus,” said Godfrey.

“VANOC is not planning on having a superstore.”

Superstores were used by past Olympic organizing committees to generate significant revenue, including organizers for the Sydney 2000 Summer Games, Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games, Athens 2004 Summer Games and Torino 2006 Winter Games. Melbourne-based company Concept Sports was contracted to manage all of these stores.

Godfrey confirmed the Resort Municipality of Whistler has worked closely with VANOC over the past several years to make sure that Whistler retail merchants handle the bulk of Olympic merchandise sales.

“VANOC, through its licensees, have already created significant retail opportunities for local merchants for selling Games-related merchandise, and that actually started before the Torino Games,” said Godfrey.

Currently 65 Whistler companies are selling Games-related merchandise.

Godfrey added that VANOC is exploring other retail opportunities in Whistler and will discuss those plans with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce and the RMOW.

Barrett Fisher, president of Tourism Whistler, said the RMOW has been “exceptionally forward thinking and proactive in working with VANOC to ensure that the business community’s interests have been well represented.

“Any discussion about any kind of Olympic store or any kind of food and beverage needs would absolutely be done in concert with the business community and food and beverage community,” said Fisher.

“That said, we also will have to look at the overall volumes and whether or not the entire resort can in fact appropriately host the volumes that we anticipate coming. And it is far too premature to know if we can or can’t at this time.”

Barrett said the RMOW, VANOC and other groups are looking at possible additional retail outlets, if it is confirmed the demand is there.

For example, if the groups thought there would be more customers in town than restaurants could service during the Games, hotel ballrooms could potentially be used to host additional food and beverage services.

“These are all discussions,” warned Barrett.

“I think for anyone to jump to conclusions about different locations and solutions is irresponsible.”

Chamber President Louise Lundy said the chamber has also been discouraging VANOC from building a temporary superstore for the Olympics.

“There is a lot still to be worked out leading up to the Games, but we certainly have worked very hard with them (VANOC) to ensure we don’t have a messy, cluttered village full of tents and additional stores that aren’t required if we have our existing businesses here,” said Lundy.

“And they (VANOC) obviously have a number of objectives they need to achieve, like revenue targets, as well as they may want to have stores that show the complete array of their products and services.”

Lundy said there might be potential space VANOC could rent within the village, but the chamber would not encourage creating a location outside of the village that would draw people away from the existing shopping spaces.

However, Godfrey added that additional retail will be brought to Whistler’s Olympic venues, like Whistler Olympic Park and the sliding centre.

“That is just a normal course of business,” he said.

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