The Vancouver Canucks being this good is certainly good for business for guys like Ken Richardson.
Richardson owns Pastime Sports and Games, which sells assorted memorabilia and collectibles from its locations in Langley, Burnaby, Surrey, and Tsawwassen. The surge in the Canucks’ play has Pastime doing triple the amount of Canuck business it was a year ago, Richardson says.
“You really notice it in jersey sales,” said Richardson, who founded Pastime in 1993.
“Jersey sales is what has increased the most. People are wanting to wear their team colours when they go out. If they’re going to the pub and there’s a hockey game on, they want to wear their jersey. If they’re going to a game, they want to wear a jersey.
“Through 2020 and 2021 and most of 2022, people weren’t going to events. You had the combinations of a team that wasn’t doing very well and you had COVID. Now, you have emerging stars on a team that is performing, and people who want to be out because they are sick and tired of having been stuck at home. It’s the perfect storm.”
Others in the collectibles game tell similar stories.
Jason Wobshall of Players Choice Sports in Kelowna quipped that, “It was like the first Christmas in three years that we sold some Canucks memorabilia.” He was exaggerating for fun, but it offers an idea of the jump in interest this time around, along with the fact he said that they sold out of Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson stock during this holiday rush.
John Stuart, who specializes in custom orders through JS Sports, says that, “You couldn’t sell an autographed Brock Boeser jersey last year for what the jersey was worth. Now he’s right up there with the most popular guys.”
Brian Davidson, who does auctions around the Vancouver area under his House Of Hockey banner, says that Canucks items would routinely go unsold a year ago, but “You put it out now and it’s just gone. You’re not bringing any Canucks stuff back from auctions.”
“It’s not 2011 … yet. In 2011, anything with an Orca on it just sold,” Wobshall explained, pointing to the year the Canucks went to the Stanley Cup Final. “But once we get back to playoffs, who knows?
“We’ve had the store for 20 years now, and forever it was Pavel Bure and Trevor Linden. Bure, Linden, Bure, Linden. There was a little bit of Kirk McLean. The Sedins never moved the needle. They didn’t sell. And finally with Boeser and Hughes and Pettersson, we’re seeing really good growth in those guys.”
Richardson added: “We went through a period where there were no emerging players. For jersey sales, anyone who was willing to spend a few hundred dollars on a jersey already had one.”
Wobshall opened Players Choice with a business partner in July 2005 across the street from Prospera Place, the home of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. While Richardson says he has seen the greatest uptick in jerseys, Wobshall says his business has seen its biggest bump up in sports cards and autographed photos.
It speaks to the variety of price points. It speaks to options. If there isn’t something for every fan, it’s darn close to that.
You can find cards for less than a quarter. There s a Pettersson 2018-19 Upper Deck Young Guns series rookie card on eBay that is listed at $13,380.49.
There are patches and pins and pennants. There are bobbleheads and blankets. You can find a set of steak knives with a Canuck insignia.
There are limited-edition art pieces, such as a 20- by 29-inch Vancouver skyline canvas featuring a tribute to the iconic photo from the 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs of Linden hugging McLean interspersed. Pastime lists them on its website, autographed by both Linden and McLean, at $399.99.
“People come in the store and I’ll always ask about their budget, and they get insulted,” Wobshall said. “But I’ve got stuff from one penny up to $100,000. I have to know a little bit.”
Richardson says that he is not surprised by this boost in Canuck collectible interest, reasoning that, “When the Canucks are doing well, the casual fan is far more engaged.”
“Toronto fans buy the goods — win, lose, or draw. It doesn’t matter good, bad, or ugly. They keep buying the stuff no matter what. Vancouver is a bit more feast or famine,” he continued. “There are a lot of things to do in Vancouver. You don’t necessarily want to watch an anticipated loss. When the team is performing — when everyone is there cheering — it’s a lot of fun.”