VANCOUVER, British Columbia – By now you've seen the Winter Olympic mittens, the best-selling item at the Hudson's Bay Company Olympic Superstore in Vancouver. One theory as to why the mittens supply is down to its last shipment says that the bright red gloves with the maple leaves on the palms are must-have keepsakes from the 2010 Games.
Our theory? It's because they're only $10, or roughly $1,189 cheaper than buying a Russian Olympic jacket.Beyond the mittens, cowbells, "Lil' Canuck" bibs and other merchandise in the Superstore are Olympic souvenirs that are high in price and frequently beyond belief.
Ralph Lauren U.S. Olympic Team gear ranging in price from $160 polo shirts to $785 jackets (all prices Canadian); a replica Olympic torch, so your family can have a relay around the backyard; and, perhaps the most extravagant item available at Hudson's Bay, an actual handcrafted canoe.
The jacket to the right is from the Russia Sochi 2014 pavilion in the Superstore, and is by far the most expensive piece of clothing we witnessed during our tour of the multifloor retail space. This is a leather Russian Olympic jacket, modeled on their teams' warm-up gear, with a sticker price of $1,199 CDN.
Or 120 pairs of mittens.
Coming up, some of the most remarkable swag and tchotchkes found in Vancouver's Olympic Superstore – a place where consumers line up outside for as long as 40 minutes for the chance to squeeze inside a store slightly more crowded than a market in Cairo to drop massive amounts of Loonies.
This is the Ralph Lauren official Team USA jacket mentioned earlier ($785). "They were looking for something that was thoroughly American," said David Lauren, one of the designer's sons, to USA Today.
And really, what's more thoroughly American than the price-gouging of tourists?
Speaking of jackets, this beauty from China, found in the international team sections on the fifth floor of the Hudson's Bay store, is floor-length with a fur-lined hood. It can be yours for the small donation of $605. The perfect jacket for a group of Chinese acrobats, standing on each other's shoulders and pretending to be one tall person.
There are a few display cases with necklaces and other bling near the registers, including these official Vancouver Games cufflinks for $225, which is probably more than some of us pay for our suits (cough, cough).
For the person who has everything except an official 2010 Vancouver Games Replica Torch. This limited-edition keepsake includes a map and a story of the 2010 Torch Relay and has all the official marks of the actual torch. The price: $295.
And if you're going to purchase the torch, might as well wear one of these ...
... official Vancouver Games competition bibs, made of lightweight fabric and yours for just $99. Remember: Bib is merely a descriptive term. Do not use this when eating buffalo wings.
Finally, the most extravagant item at the Hudson's Bay store isn't technically part of its Olympic collection, but it's still rather mind-blowing:
This is a handcrafted Langford canoe especially created for the Hudson's Bay Company. Several canoes are on display near the middle of the store; the striped model retails for $7,500, or roughly 6.3 official Russian Olympic jackets.
Wonder if they'll let you take that thing down the slopes at Whistler ...