Lots of Olympic souvenirs left, 5 months later

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - When the Winter Olympics ended five months ago, they left Canadians with memories, taxpayers with bills to pay and souvenir companies with huge inventories.

The red-hot red mittens and heavy Games-time sales at The Bay drove royalties to $57 million, $3.2 million better than VANOC forecast. But big discount sales continue at the Metro Vancouver warehouses of two official VANOC licensees.

“There is just a terrific amount of merchandise remaining,” said Northern Gifts president Bob MacKerricher. “Most of the licensees didn't know what to do with the products -- some of them sold their products on the basis if it didn't sell, the stores could return it.”

Friday to Sunday sales at the Northern warehouse in suburban Burnaby could last beyond September. Cajo Designs president Carl Oster said his weekday sales in East Vancouver are scheduled through August.

“Right now it's really people stacking up for traveling and also for inexpensive stocking stuffers for Christmas,” Oster said.

MacKerricher said bulk sales to official Olympic sponsors were lower than expected because of the recession. He estimated Northern has 40,000 Miga, Quatchi, Sumi and Muk Muk mascot dolls in stock, beginning at $2.50 each, and the profitability of its Olympic license relies on the warehouse sale.

“We have to liquidate the inventories to make it a worthwhile experience for us,” said MacKerricher, who has sold quantities to B.C. chains Save-On-Foods and London Drugs and G2 Canada in Vancouver's Chinatown.

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