I figured while my family and I were lucky enough to spend an extended weekend in Vancouver this past week at the 21st Olympic Winter Games, I would give you a merchant’s perspective on what we saw and what we experienced over the course of the next few entries.
But in summation, before I even start, overall, the experience was outstanding and Canadians have so much to be proud of in hosting this worldwide spectacle.
Having attended the Montreal summer games in 1976 and the Calgary hosted winter version in 1988, I made it a priority to ensure my family had the type of experience I had in the past. They were not disappointed. As a matter of fact, I believe these games have become so much bigger and grander than ever. It was a different experience, somewhat diffused by holding the vents in two different locales (Vancouver and Whistler – three if you count Cypress) and by the fact that Vancouver is the largest metropolis to ever hold a winter edition of the Olympic phenomenon.
My memory of the event was more intimate, more condensed and socializing was limited to the participants, volunteers and the spectators and less about everyone else coming downtown to celebrate and party. Not that that’s a bad thing as Robson Street and Main Street were jumping all day and virtually all night with live broadcasts, all-night reveries and cultural events that appealed to, shall we call them, the “less interested” athletic fan base. Walking through downtown Vancouver this week was like walking around the streets of Tokyo (at any time). Wall to wall people, meandering through the downtown core, stopping to look at buildings, cauldrons, exhibits, stores and booths set up for the event.
Vancouver and Whistler will never see this much action or traffic ever again. Certainly a once in a lifetime experience for them as well as my family.
What I will touch on in the next installments relate to VANOC’s efforts to stage the games from a merchant’s perspective including merchandising, marketing, employee engagement and overall environment.