Olympics bring boom to some Whistler businesses 

Souvenirs are popular with Winter Games crowd, but mountains are quiet


It's been ridiculous.

That's how Michael Sinclair, general manager of the 49 th Parallel, described the business his store has seen since the Olympics officially opened Friday, bringing with them a constant stream of international spectators, volunteers, workers and athletes.

"It is four times what we actually thought it would be, and 10 to 20 times what a normal day would be," he said Monday morning, hurriedly answering phone calls and manning the cash register while speaking to Pique Newsmagazine.

The business his store is seeing is not even on the same spectrum as May Long Weekend or Crankworx, said Sinclair, who carries Olympic- and Canadian-themed clothing and merchandise.

"It is probably on the same spectrum as Christmas," said Sinclair. "It is better than anything we would have thought would be possible."

Each customer is buying more than one item, he said, which is different than normal, and the majority of his clients are Canadian, although he is also seeing American and European credit cards.

And if the upcoming week is anything like the first four days, he said, "it is going to be great."

As day four of the Winter Olympics took shape in Whistler on Monday, sleep did not appear to be top of mind for the many people making their way along the Village Stroll. By 9 a.m., the coffee shops were packed and a lift line was spiraling out of the entrance to Whistler Gondola with eager skiers and boarders. More than half of the businesses already had their lights on and their doors open.

Fiona Minton, co-owner of Ingrid's Café, was busy frying dozens of hamburger patties.

"It's been crazy," she said as the phone started ringing.

It's busier than Crankworx - one of Whistler's busiest weekends - she said. From lunchtime onward, people are constantly lining up at her till. Customers are from all over the world, with a significant number of Americans in town, which she suspects is related to the fact that Monday was President's Day.

"We always thought it would be like this, but we thought it might happen a bit earlier," she added. "We were prepared for it, but we have been probably prepared for about two weeks for it."

Not everyone in the village has been blessed with high sales and packed stores, though. The staff at Mountain Riders looked restless, with one worker holding a grey cat and another giggling.

"It's been pretty quiet in here," Chloe Latham, a store assistant, said frankly. "I guess nobody really wants to buy snowboards, but it is craziness out there."

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