As athletes prepare for next month’s Winter Games, the U.S. Olympic Committee retail store in Colorado Springs is preparing for the rush on all things Olympic.
Store managers expect the rush to begin the middle of January and continue during the Games in Torino, Italy, scheduled for Feb. 10 through Feb. 26.
“It’s been slow after Christmas, but we’re expecting a bigger rush once NBC starts advertising the games more,” Operations Manager Rory Forestham said. “We’re going to be doing more advertising as well, as the date gets closer.”
The U.S. Olympic Shop at Colorado Springs is the flagship store for the owner, XP Retail of Denver. The company bought the seven stores licensed to sell official Olympic wear in 2003, said spokeswoman Randy Gallivan.
“The store in Colorado Springs always does very well,” she said. “But sales explode during the Olympics. During Athens, the store sales increased 30 percent in June, July and August.”
The retail store sells replicas of the outfits worn by the athletes, including the outfit worn for interviews and the costumes worn for the parade of athletes during the opening ceremonies.
“Our biggest seller is probably the ‘hoodies’ with the Olympic logo,” Forestham said. “That was a big Christmas seller, but once the Olympics start, more people want the Nike apparel that athletes wear. Those are a little more expensive, so it depends on the price.”
The majority of the shoppers don’t live in Colorado Springs, he said.
“Most of our business depends on tourists,” Forestham said. “So, how well we’ll do during the Winter Olympics depends on how many out-of-towners are around.”
The store is the only place in Colorado to pick up official Olympic apparel, he said. There also are stores at the Olympic Training centers in Lake Placid, N.Y. and Chula Vista, Calif.; and stores in downtown Lake Placid, the Mall of America in Minneapolis, New York City and San Diego.
Olympic items also are available via the Web at www.usolympicshop.com. All the shops are expected to post gains during the Winter Olympics, Gallivan said.
The retail store at the USOC is not the only local business that will benefit from the Olympics. A family-owned jewelry business is playing a part in the figure skating competition, creating pins for winners in the Olympics and the national and world championships.
Vogan’s Gold and Silver Jewelry Store has held the contract to produce the pins for four years. The pins are paid for by a fund set up by figure skating supporter Harry Radix. Radix started handing out the pins in the 1960s, and every winner of a national, world or Olympic title receives a pin.
“We’ve been told these are the Super Bowl rings of figure skating,” owner Rege Vogan said. “They’re a status symbol. The skaters wear them to a draw party the night before the world championships. You can tell what rank they are by how many pins they are wearing.”
This is the first year that the pins he created will be given to Olympians.
“We produce the pins by hand, out of a thin sheet of gold,” he said. “The skate has a .05 carat diamond in the toe. We’ve taken the measurements from the original pins in the Olympic museum, and we’re always within .001 of the original on any given skate.”
Vogan runs the shop with his wife and two adult daughters.
“Everyone likes to watch the Olympics,” he said. “And we’re very honored to be part of the tradition.”