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How the B.C. company behind the 2010 plush mascots spun its own gold
You may remember the 2010 Winter Games Olympic mascots. Bob MacKerricher does. He and his partner ran a local company called Northern Gifts and in 2007 bid to make the cute mascots.
“It was quite an onerous task,” MacKerricher said.
But they struck Olympic gold with the winning bid. Quatchi, Mukmuk, Sumi and Miga were born, and soon they began flying off of store shelves.
“I heard it was supposed to be a half-whale, half-fishy, mouse type of thing,” said one shopper at the time, referring to the Miga character.
It didn’t matter what they looked like, the public loved the cuddly cute furballs and gobbled them up. Prices ranged from $25 to $40, with giant-sized versions of the mascots selling for $175.
Pins, keychains and clothing followed, along with story books to create interest to flesh out the characters.
Was it good for business?
“I’ll say it was good for business,” said MacKerricher with a smile on his face.
During the peak he says he and his partner would load up a 50-ton truck twice a day just to fill shelves in the Lower Mainland, and the mascots were popular across the country too.
Prior to the Olympics in 2010 MacKerricher says Northern Gifts was earning about $4 million a year. Mascot sales brought in $17 million.
“Blown away. It was by far and away the most successful mascot program up until that date in Olympic history,” he said.
There were resellers online and some knockoffs too, but he said the Vancouver Olympic Committee did a good job policing it.
But, when it was all over and the excitement had died down, MacKerricher was done and sold out his share of the business to his partner.
“It’s hard to replicate that kind of excitement," he said, reflecting on the time. "You’re running on adrenaline, you know, just almost 24 hours a day. It just – it was magic."