SOCHI, Russia – In Sochi's Olympic Park there are two constants: the Olympic flame burning triumphantly in the middle of the park and the long line of waiting shoppers snaking out of the official store.
Russian retailer Bosco di Ciliegi has told Olympic organizers that it was caught off guard by the demand for souvenirs in Sochi and it has been scrambling to keep the lines moving and the merchandise racks stocked. Average wait times just to get in are more than an hour, and it can take another hour to get through the store to the exit.
"I think Bosco actually commented several days ago that indeed, let's say, demand was much over their projections and they were a bit overwhelmed," Sochi 2014 spokeswoman Aleksandra Kosterina said on Monday. "But they are sorting this out and hopefully it will work better."
Marina Novokovskaya says it all worked out for her in the end, but it requires a lot of patience.
"I got what I expected," she said with a bright smile after her two-hour journey.
Susan Taylor, visiting from London, did not have to wait in a long line because workers noticed her using a cane and ushered her in. Once there, however, she found things in a bit of disarray. She was looking for a T-shirt in large or XL, but had to settle for an XXL because everything was taken.
"It was kind of chaotic," she said.
According to Bosco, the store has had more than 100,000 visitors since it opened. They say that every hour they sell:
— 120 overcoats
— 210 baseball caps
— 400 t-shirts
— More than 1,000 pins and keychains.
— By Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski
Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu