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Was the investment of time and resources for the 2010 Winter Olympics worth it to small businesses in British Columbia? Here's a look at two that took part:

NORTHERN GIFTS SPECIALTIES

Product: The 22-year-old Burnaby company designs, manufactures and distributes plush animals to retailers throughout North America.

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Games role: Won the bidding war to be the exclusive mascot licensee for the Games, supplying retailers such as Hudson's Bay Co. (the Bay and Zellers), the official Vancouver 2010 stores and licensees, the Vancouver 2010 online store, London Drugs and the Overwaitea Food Group. It has sold almost three million pieces of merchandise.

Impact: The company sees continuing demand for the mascots and is working with at least 15 other licensees at a Vancouver 2010 warehouse, selling leftover merchandise. Northern Gifts president Bob MacKerricher said the experience has "definitely been positive" and shows that the company can handle major projects. He has been in talks with the official licensee for the 2012 Games in London and 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

M-CHEM TECHNOLOGIES AND EPI ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCTS

Product: M-chem is a chemical manufacturer, marketing and service company. EPI has developed a chemical additive, which causes plastic to degrade quickly with heat, light and pressure.

Games role: The two partnered to create a custom-made biodegradable garbage bag for VANOC. They had previously created similar BioSafe bags for the City of Vancouver.

Impact: M-chem chief executive officer Ken Hallat said it is too soon to gauge the impact of the Games on the companies, but is confident potential customers will be impressed that the two were the exclusive supplier to the 2010 Olympics. They have been in talks with Disney, and while they don't have an order yet, they hope their Olympic involvement will help seal a deal.





















Special to The Globe and Mail

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