By  on February 14, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY -- There will be no ceremony or screaming fans, but Roots is enjoying the Winter Games in championship style.

The 28-year-old Canadian company scored big by outfitting the U.S. Olympic team, so much so that it has pretty much eclipsed its deal with the Canadian team.

Americans and international fans are flocking to the company's two stores here and one in Park City, where long lines are a given to buy the best-selling berets, hoodies and zip-front jackets. Stores are so crowded that it's one of the few places where people are taking off their coats.

During the Olympics, each Utah store is expected to exceed plan by a few million dollars, said co-founder Don Green, adding: "We anticipated big volume, but this is unprecedented in retail history."

"People love wearing America now," he said. "So many foreigners are shopping, too."

Given the fever behind the brand at the Olympics, Roots expects to see a 50 percent increase in sales this year, which would elevate volume to about $250 million, according to estimates. The company has 145 stores in Canada and eight in the U.S., but no more are slated to bow in the States this year. Next up are sites in Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China next fall.

As distributors of Roots, Nordstrom and Gart Sport also have seen sales jump during the Games, he noted.

"There is one voice, one eye, one company," he said. "You can mix and match so many of these pieces, even the shoes. We started out as a footwear company. We don't want to go the athletic route."

Green said he has not heard much criticism from other North American companies about a Canadian firm suiting up the home team.

"It's been very quiet on that front," he said. "But I know some people are wondering, 'Why didn't the USOC go to a domestic company?' The reason they came to Roots is they really liked the product and knew Roots would sell the look from head-to-toe, and we are."

Plus, Green added: "Roots is a North American company [with two factories in Toronto.] Would they rather have products made in China, Vietnam or in North America?"

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