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Scramble for scarce Olympics souvenirs

Joe McDonald

BEIJING (AP) – The race is on to snap up scarce 2022 Winter Olympics souveniers, especially stuffed versions of the ubiquitous Games mascot known as Bing Dwen Dwen, a roly poly panda in a winter coat.

People showed up with stools on Sunday to wait overnight in freezing temperatures for a chance to buy the stuffed animals at Gongmei Emporium on the Wangfujing pedestrian mall in central Beijing. Some were from a mini-industry of people who are paid to wait in line to buy the latest smartphones and other consumer crazes for clients.

The pandas were sold out yesterday at many locations, including the souvenir shop at the Main Media Centre inside the Olympics bubble, where Chinese volunteers and foreign visitors lined up for hours.

A sign in Gongmei’s window said it had 300 Bing Dwen Dwen figures and buyers were allowed one each. It promised more today.

The Beijing Olympic organising committee asked souvenier factories to make more, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Many re-opened this week after shutting down for two weeks or more during the Lunar New Year holiday.

In the Houhai neighbourhood to the north of the Chinese capital’s centre, a shop hung out a sign before 10am saying Bing Dwen Dwen souvenirs were sold out.

Gongmei’s Wangfujing flagship sold Olympics merchandise worth CNY3 million (USD470,000) on Friday, the day of the opening ceremony, the official newspaper Global Times reported.

People inspect their purchases outside a store selling 2022 Winter Olympics memorabilia in Beijing. PHOTO: AP

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