The upside of 2010 business? 

Whistler retailers say they're not sure

By Vivian Moreau

“Plan for everything you can think of and then… be flexible,” Park City’s chamber of commerce head told almost 200 who attended a Tourism Whistler-sponsored one-day conference on how to prepare for the 2010 Winter Games.

That was two years ago.

But the planning some Whistler retailers are doing centres around accepting that business will be down during the Olympics.

“We’re actually predicting a drop of sales for that particular year,” said Sue Adams, owner of the Grocery Store in Village Square.

Adams anticipates media and event personnel flooding into Whistler will have most of their needs already met by organizers and doesn’t anticipate many will be grocery shopping during the Olympics.

“They will have lunch boxes on their buses or it will be taken care of through their hotels, that sort of thing,” Adams said.

The grocer’s catering arm may see some additional Games revenue though.

“We’re looking at the possibility of joining forces with other food services to be able to provide some products on a sub-contract basis for various levels of catering,” she said.

Beth Johnston, of S2S Marketing, says her logo products company will also see a drop in sales during the two-week Games, but she’s still upbeat about the event.

“I’m very excited. I want to see the downhill, to see the people and all the fun they’re going to have,” Johnston said.

The sole proprietor says she hopes to partner with another larger business and contract for some of the half a million products, from clothing to pins, that she markets.

Marc Droust co-owner of Lotus Art Supplies in the Village Stroll, wants to know how much leeway artists who sell their work in his shop will have to capitalize on Olympic landscapes.

“How far artists are allowed to go in creating their own unique cards that incorporate logos — everybody is a little unsure of what they can do.”

Tim Wake of Rogers’ Chocolates said final drawings have just been approved for a large, flat milk chocolate bar “that’s not specific to the Games,” but will feature a local scene with “Whistler” stamped in the chocolate.

Wake said decisions about extended hours and extra staff will be made closer to the Games.

“Our business is able to respond quickly to increases and decreases,” he said. “But we’ll probably be open more, we’re certainly anticipating there will be bigger traffic in the street.”

Tourism Whistler will hold a workshop this July for businesses who want to learn from past host city experiences, like Torino’s.

“We’ll be looking at all things Olympic,” said Tourism Whistler’s Michele Comeau Thompson.

“There are some people from TOROC coming to B.C. at that time, and we might bring people in from other Games as well,” she said. A date is still to be determined.

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