Hello Canada, hello world!
The XXI Olympic Winter Games are being held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (home of the Vancouver Etsy Street Team) February 12–28, 2010. The X Paralympic Games are held a month later in the same venue. All the athletes who compete in these games are incredible, and watching what the Paralympic competitors can accomplish is truly inspiring.
I love the Winter Olympics because there are all kinds of “crazy” sports like luge and skeleton where people hurtle themselves down icy tracks with little more than a Lycra suit and a helmet! And speaking of crazy, in the midst of a recession year, U.S. athletes are finding it hard to get sponsors — prompting comedians like Stephen Colbert to bring his Colbert Nation along as sponsors of the U.S. Speedskating Team. All joking aside, the Olympics are always full of feel-good stories, and it’s a time when national pride can be on display without (too much of) a political agenda. Take Norway, for example, a country of just 4.6 million people that leads the overall Winter Olympic medal count with 280. No doubt they’re heavily favored in many events in Vancouver despite sending just 15 athletes to the games. (The U.S. is sending 250 athletes by comparison.) Of course, the host, Canada, should figure prominently on the podium and perennial powerhouses like Russia, Austria and Germany should shine as well.
Here at Etsy we also have superstar international countries. Last year, Canada was the first non-U.S. country to post more than $1 million (USD) in sales in a single month (November) and continues to do so, earning Etsy Sales Gold. Australia and the UK are often flip-flopping Silver and Bronze positions (perhaps reflecting the relative strength of their currencies at any given time?). Like Norway in the Winter Olympics, tiny Israel also posts some impressive numbers and was actually just off the podium, coming in fourth in non-U.S. sales in 2009.
Over on the shopper side, our friends in France took that fourth spot behind the big three of Canada, UK and Australia. Another story that inspires me: the lone athlete representing a country or region of the world, for example Muhammad Abbas, an alpine skier from Gilgit District, Pakistan. There are also Etsians selling from places like Honduras, Montenegro and Bhutan, countries that are unlikely to make the top of the lists but that show the broad reach of the handmade life.
Etsy, like the Olympic and Paralympic Games themselves, is not just about the sales or medals; it’s about the camaraderie, hard work and spirit of people seeing the fruits of their efforts. I’m sure the global Etsy community will be cheering on their home athletes and their favorite feel-good stories in Vancouver, and perhaps the games will inspire some cross-cultural shopping on Etsy as well!
Let the games begin!
Cast your votes in rikrak’s Handmade Olympics happening right now!