I got the equivalent of a Twitter fortune cookie (or possibly a demand; it’s all in how you look at it) suggesting that I do something to help others today, so here:
If you’re looking for official Olympic souvenirs, you’ve got several options. The official online store has some neat things, and offers free next day shipping to people in BC. It seems like VANOC slapped their name all over everything, and as absurd as some of the products are – you can get an official Olympic pepper grinder for only $63.99 – people seem to be snapping them up like mad. The most expensive thing I found on the site is a $500 14k gold coin, which is out of stock so someone is buying these things. You might as well get in while you can.
If you’re actually in Vancouver, people are selling things on almost every street corner. The big draw for official gear is the Olympic Superstore in the Bay, but bring a Visa and a lot of patience – there is a lineup to get into the store all day long, and it’s even worse inside. I can’t imagine how they’re keeping things in stock, because people are grabbing everything they can get their hands on. I wanted to poke around and see how much the cool Canada quilted jackets are, but I couldn’t get anywhere near the place without a long wait in a line with pushy people so I gave up and headed elsewhere.
“Elsewhere” turned out to be the 5th floor of the Bay, which is where they’re keeping the Olympic gear for other countries. There’s also a small selection of Team Canada stuff, so if you were just hoping for a hoodie or hat, try the 5th floor – the crowds are much, much more manageable and you can be in and out in minutes as opposed to hours.
I’ve heard some people complaining about the price of the Olympic goods, and I agree – some of the items are really pricy for what you get. However, don’t disparage the price of the Team Canada gear: believe me when I say we’re actually lucky that the Canadian gear costs what it does, because it could be a LOT worse.
Remember how I was coveting the Team Russia line? It turns out I can’t afford to defect to another country; not when the hoodies sell for $298 apiece. There’s something seriously wrong with buying something to advertise another country when people actually living there would never be able to afford it. Team Russia has a large booth set up on the 5th floor of the Bay, and everything is outrageously expensive: $79 for a t-shirt. $50 for hat or scarf. $159 for a cheap-feeling polar fleece vest. By contrast, the Team Canada gear is so much more reasonable: $20 t-shirts, $50 hoodies, and hats starting at $15. Don’t forget our mittens, either – those are $10 and are being bought by the literal armful by tourists and residents alike.
The other countries aren’t faring much better when it comes to affordable pride: $198 will get you a bright orange Netherlands pullover, or $150 for a long-sleeved t-shirt. However, those prices are NOTHING compared to what it costs to be a fan of Team China:
$545 for a puffy, floor-length, (faux) fur-trimmed, red and gold coat. $695 for a Team China track suit like the ones they wore in the Opening Ceremonies. How many people in China could actually afford these things? 1%? Maybe 2? Wow.
If you’re not picky about which Olympics you’re cheering for, you actually have another option: the 5th floor has a section dedicated to historic Olympic gear. I wasn’t expecting this, and was pleasantly surprised by the variety and price points. I was sorely tempted by the sleek navy jacket commemorating the 1924 Olympics in Paris, France for $120, or the snazzy red and white track jacket from the Sapporo, Japan games in 1972. The focus was on the Winter games so I wasn’t able to find anything from Montreal’s ’76 games, but Calgary ’88 was representing all over the place. I’m still giving some serious thought to the Paris ’24 gear – no one said I had to be celebrating THESE Olympics. So what if I want to cheer for 1924? Who’s going to stop me, you?
If you’re truly on a budget but want something cute to remind you of the Games, I suggest you head to a McDonald’s. They’re currently doing a series of mascot-themed Happy Meal toys (in Canada only, apparently) that are friggin’ adorable, and only $2 each. Mukmuk gets no love, but you can get toys of Quatchi, Sumi and Miga doing various winter Olympic sports and being all cute and licensed and stuff:
SO! After all that, I thought I’d try to bring a piece of the Vancouver Olympic Games to you, the general public. I’m giving away two pairs of the Red Mittens because I love my readers and maybe sometimes your hands are cold and full of love for a country that may or may not be your own. Leave a comment below to be entered in the draw, which I will make on Sunday – two winners will receive a pair of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Mittens and some Delicious Juice Dot Com pins! Hooray! Free stuff! Spread the word! Enter below!