On Scene

It's not whether you win . . .
February 24, 2010
Written by Paul Dixon

Wednesday, Feb. 24


The rain returned on Tuesday, along with the wind, making for a cold and miserable day for those who came outside in Vancouver. You’d think it was the middle of winter. Even at that, there were lots of people out and about on foot downtown. Not the stifling crowds of the sunny weekend, but still a lot of very enthusiastic people braving the elements. You can measure the buzz level by the length of the lineups at several key places. The Royal Canadian Mint has a pavilion the features the process behind the making of Olympic medals and allows viewers to handle the medals. Today’s lineup was down to about 90 minutes from Saturday and Sunday’s four hours.


The Olympic Store at The Bay in downtown Vancouver still had a lineup a city block long for most of Tuesday. From what we could see at The Bay, it’s still full price and people can’t get enough of it. The irony is that even across the street from The Bay, other major retailers in Vancouver are already clearing out their Olympic merchandise at deep discounts. It would be interesting to get a number on all the Olympic-related merchandise that was sold here in the past couple of months. Absolutely mind boggling.


The question is where we will be headed after the Olympics have packed up and moved on.  The local media have been trumpeting a report from the Conference Board of Canada predicting that BC’s economy will lead the country in 2010 (here's the full story) while UBC’s Sauder School of Business released a report, co-authored by a gold-medal winning Canadian Olympian, opining that the Olympics would have little impact, good or bad, on the local economy.


Local pundits are also reporting on businesses outside the downtown core that have seen little or no Olympic-related business. Many restaurants outside downtown and in the suburbs are citing a significant drop in business. Two issues come to mind. Firstly, the vast majority of visitors who come for the Olympics have come for one thing and one thing only – the Olympics. They don’t come to go shopping in the burbs. As for the locals, when they go downtown, as they have in record numbers over the past 10 days, they take their wallets with them and spend their money where they happen to be.


As the Canadian Olympic Committee has now been forced to admit, not everyone can be a winner.


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