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Hamiltonians left to search for 2015 Pan Am merchandise

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Hamilton may be soccer central when it comes to hosting the 2015 Pan Am Games.

But residents looking to buy the plush porcupine mascot Pachi, or other Pan Am souvenirs and apparel for the Christmas season will have to look online rather than go to a nearby store.

Last weekend the Toronto 2015 organization committee introduced its souvenir and apparel merchandise in various Loblaws and Real Canadian Superstore locations during the December weekends prior to Christmas. But none of the stores are located in Hamilton. The merchandise is also available at the CN Tower Gift Shop.

Toronto 2015 officials are urging people if they can’t get to a Loblaws store to use the Toronto2015.org website to purchase the merchandise.

“It is the first step in our merchandising plan,” said Rick Ramsbottom, vice-president of sponsorship sales.

He said the Toronto 2015 organizing committee is partnering with Loblaws, a sponsor, to sell the merchandise in pop up venues within the stores on Saturdays and Sundays during December. He acknowledged there are no Loblaws or Real Canadian Superstore locations in Hamilton for residents to physically purchase the merchandise. The closest Real Canadian Superstore locations are inMilton, the site of the velodrome, and St. Catharines, which is hosting the rowing events. The other locations are in Toronto, Ajax, Brampton, Mississauga, and Oshawa. The closest Loblaws that sells the Pan Am merchandise is in Toronto and Markham. The Pan Am stores are open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ramsbottom is urging residents to check out the Toronto2015.org website, where people can easily purchase gifts in time for Christmas.

“It’s a really easy process,” he said. “It’s a great on-line store.”

He said organizers will expand the availability of the Pan Am merchandise in more locations next year as the games draw nearer.  He said merchandise will eventually be available at other stores, such as IDA and Guardian drug stores. Ramsbottom also suggested the organizing committee could talk to the 15 municipalities that are hosting events, including Hamilton, to offer the merchandise at their city halls, municipal service centres and tourism locations.

“We are working with our municipal partners right now to see how we can make them available,” he said.

Ramsbottom acknowledged even though the merchandise is from Canadian-based companies, the actual items are made in China.

“They are not made in Canada,” he said.

The reason behind the decision to have the merchandise made outside Canada is economic in order to provide the goods in enough volumes at an affordable price, he said.

Northern Gifts of Burnaby, B.C. is the licensee that is offering the Pan Am Games mascot, while Trimark Sportswear Group of Richmond Hillis producing the Pan Am apparel including hoodies and ball caps. Both companies provided merchandise to the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. The Pin People of Regina, the supplier to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Calgary will be providing collectible pins to Toronto 2015.

Ramsbottom said all the companies associated with the Toronto 2015 are expected to follow its policy involving workplace safety in producing the merchandise for the games.

“We are very concerned (about working conditions in other countries),” he said.

Merchandise for the 2015 Pan Am Games is projected to raise about two per cent of revenue to help cover the estimated $1.44 billion cost of the games. Sponsorship, merchandise and ticket revenue is projected to net the games $153 million.

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