Sochi can’t light the same Olympic passions

Chilliwack residents may be celebrating the Olympic victories in Sochi, but they’re not flying the flag the same way they did in Vancouver.

Sales at The Flag Shop have slightly increased during the Olympics

Chilliwack residents may be celebrating the Olympic victories in Sochi, but they’re not flying the flag the same way they did in Vancouver.

The difference in sales at The Flag Shop this year compared to 2010 is like night and day.

Four years ago, with the Olympics taking place so close to Chilliwack, people here celebrated for 17 days straight.

Some showed their pride here in their hometown, while others ventured into Vancouver regardless of whether they had a ticket to an Olympic event or not — they just wanted to celebrate and be at the hub of all the excitement.

Fans waved their flags on hockey sticks and poles, they attached them to their cars, and raised them outside their homes.

Flags and pride were all around.

This year, it’s different.

“There is a sense of interest now (with the 2014 Olympics), but it’s definitely not the same level of excitement as 2010,” says Amy Watson of The Flag Shop, located inside the Tourism Chilliwack office.

Every two years the shop sees a slight increase in flag sales, tied to either the winter or summer Olympics.

In 2010 it was different. Sales exploded.

“We sold out of both Canadian flags and Netherlands flags during the 2010 Olympics,” recalls Watson.

The Canadian flags were, by far, the biggest seller. Dutch flags were easily second on the list. Also popular were Olympic flags, and countries that ranked high in the medal standings, like Norway and Germany.

“People suddenly took real pride in where they were from,” says Watson. “They wanted to represent their heritage.”

The Flag Shop couldn’t keep up with the demand. It wasn’t just the quantity of flags sold that was impressive, but the size as well. People weren’t buying small handheld flags on a stick, they wanted large flags.

“Most people were buying the $30 flags (measuring 3’x5’) which many wore like a cape.”

Whether Chilliwackians were caught in the thrill of the 2010 games, or whether they wanted to show the world their patriotism and ethnic pride, their excitement over Sochi simply can’t compete with passion stirred by Vancouver.

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