coachella polo grounds game on for Olympics merchandise
NEW YORK Forget limited edition gold bottles of Coca Cola and pricey replicas of the Olympic torch. Driving the merchandise machine ahead of the Vancouver, British Columbia, Games is a $10 pair of red mittens helping to raise money for host athletes.
Organizers outfitted thousands of torchbearers with the knitted mitts that sport the Olympic rings and a white maple leaf in each palm. More than 1.5 million pairs have sold, enough for at least 1 in 34 Canadians.
“They really taken the nation by storm, said Dennis Kim, director of licensing and merchandising for the Vancouver Organizing Committee, which is using about $4 from each sale to support the country quest for first time gold on home turf.
With less than a month to go before the opening ceremony, it game on in all areas of Olympic merchandising, from “Future Olympian sippy cups to vintage apparel. There plenty in every price range, with more to come once the Games are under way.
But are people feeling spendy in these shaky economic times?
“It anyone guess at this point, said Sally Parrott, senior marketing director at Aritzia, a chain of high end boutiques. “I feel that people are starting to bounce back.
Aritzia has joined with Park Life for a laid back, retro and graphic street line of fashions and accessories. The Vancouver logos and those of previous Games were used on a set of white tube socks, and there a fur lined hoodie with Olympic patches in charcoal.
From Polo Ralph Lauren, there a Team USA white ski cap with double stripes for men and a half zip sweater in red. winners will wear on medal stands. Fans also can buy the company blue fade medal stand puffer jackets.
Among collectibles, Coca Cola is offering a shiny, gold bottle of Coke with the Vancouver logo. Luxury jeweler Birks designed a sleek, limited edition desktop replica of the torch in a Canadian Alderwood box.
Birks used the Inuit inspired emblem of the Games, a graphic interpretation of an inukshuk,
on sterling silver pendants, key chains, cuff links and bracelets. Organizers say the humanlike form with open arms is a symbol of welcome.
For ski, snowboard and hockey fans, cowbells await as the way to cheer while wearing gloves. Organizers have designed retro, brass cowbells in large and small sizes with hand straps.
For fans left behind but looking to throw an Olympic party in front of their big screen TVs, there “Mario Sonic at the Winter Games for Wii. Selections include four person bobsleigh and wand driven hockey.
Exclusive bounty for American athletes will be plentiful once they arrive, with giveaways from sponsors that include a special issue diaper for their tots adorned at the behind with Team USA and the Olympic Rings.
License holders, sponsors and others tied to the Games embrace the honorary Olympic sport of trading and selling lapel pins.
Looming large in retail pins are the official Olympic mascots: Quatchi, Miga, Sumi and a muskrat pal named Mukmuk. Suggested retail prices range from nearly $7 to $12.
Pins, to the hard core, are all about the hunt. They also comprise about 18 percent of the organizers overall licensing business for the Vancouver Games.
Al Falcao, 70, of Markham near Toronto, has been collecting Olympic pins for 22 years.
“If you can buy it, I not interested, he said. “When I see a pin, I set my mind on, I gotta get that. Once I got it,
I on to the next one.