Birch Bay Square business plans Olympic-sized event

Published on Wed, Jan 13, 2010 by Jack Kintner

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The Winter Olympics in Vancouver are a month away and the first real evidence of that opened December 1 in Birch Bay Square, Greg Murphy’s 2010 World Games store and museum. Business has been brisk.

Though right now he has one of the mall shops near the south end of the mall, Murphy will move outdoors during the Olympics 16-day run that begins February 12.

He’ll put up a circus tent that will feature live music, a beer garden and barbecued sandwiches and chicken. Murphy’s other job is as a caterer in Tacoma.

Murphy’s place will be the key spot for Olympics-bound travelers to stop and find out just how to get there – many Vancouver streets will be blocked and there is no public parking at any of the venues. He has about 50 tickets to various events and offers transportation and lodging packages as well.

He’ll also share his favorite Olympics activity, trading pins. “There are over 2,500 pins here alone,” said Murphy, 53, who went to the 1984 summer games in Los Angeles, the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City and to every Olympics since. “I’m a pinhead,” he said, pointing at some of the rare and valuable pins he’s collected.

The front of his store sells souvenirs and the back half is filled with his memorabilia, what he calls his museum, with artifacts dating back to the 19th century. He has one old photo that shows a stadium full of people saluting Hitler at the 1936 games at which African American athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals competing against the best Nazi athletes.

“The competition was supposed to show who was the best, and it did,” said Murphy, “though not in the way Hitler expected.”

The first Olympics he remembers were in Mexico in 1968, where race became an issue when sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave a controversial black power salute from the podium.

“They shouldn’t have taken away their medals,” Murphy said. “But it worked out. Smith helped organize the ’84 games, and is in the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.”

Murphy said his outside tent and beer garden will have a menu similar to what he offers each year at the Puyallup Fair flavored with his Dad’s secret barbecue sauce, a tangy flavor he says you will taste in the back of your mouth.

For now, his store is a great way to find out answers to just about anything having to do with the Winter Olympic Games and the Paralympics that will follow. His store will remain open through March.

“It’s a great way to meet people from all over the world,” he said, pointing out packages available in which one can “suit up in the uniform of your favorite country.”

Murph’s BBQ and 2010 World Games Souvenirs and Museum is open 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sundays and is closed on Monday.

For more information call the store at 360/933-4641 or go to USouvenirs.com.