The History of Vintage Sports Images
Vintage Sports Images is a special place where art and sports collide. Current owner, Blair Peters, played sports all his life and then went on to a career in animation. The original owner, Eric Olsen, who appeared on Dragons’ Den on CBC Television, also played sports and was an avid collector.
One day, Eric was “asked politely” by his wife Andrea to get rid of his memorabilia that was stored in the home, to make room to raise their three young children. Eric decided to try his hand at online sales of the images and found his way to eBay and he did well. On the other side, he also became popular with people who wanted to get rid of their own sports negatives and slides. From there, the Vintage Sports Images library was born.
Eric and Blair were friends because their eldest daughters played fastpitch for the North Shore Stars, one a pitcher, one a catcher. Blair and Eric, being sports nostalgia fans, found much in common – including that they both had places on BC’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. At that point, Eric couldn’t say too much about Vintage Sports Images because he was scheduled to appear on Dragons’ Den in the fall of that year. Blair watched in anticipation and cheered on his pal at the Sunshine Coast Golf & Country Club, where he, family and friends watched Eric sweat it out until three dragons made him an offer! The whooping and hollering could be heard up and down the Coast.
As often happens, the Dragons’ Den deal did not result in a final agreement. So Blair, who had recently sold his animation company Studio B Productions to DHX Media, proposed to Eric that they become partners.
The two worked together on curating the library, setting up the website and the retail gallery, which brings us to the present.
Now, Vintage Sports Images has a retail gallery in North Vancouver (1089 Marine Drive). Local designers Synthesis Design and Westworks Construction created a great unique space at the retail gallery, where sports fans, artists, musicians, anyone really, can congregate and celebrate art and share stories of a simpler time.
The gallery is interactive, with a floorball net and sticks and balls courtesy of Greg Beaudin’s Floorball Academy Plus Inc. Film your swing at the “batting station” and get an online critique from Al Mauthe of the Baseball Academy. If yours is the “Swing of the Week” you could even win free batting at Inside Performance in North Vancouver.
The Vintage team includes print and web and graphic designers John and Roberta Ridd of Tophelf Creative in Gibsons, BC, Paul Holman of AHA Creative Strategies, who manages PR, Ken Dyck from Urban Pictures in West Vancouver scanning the negatives and slides, and printer/canvas magician Martin Mavko of Vancouver’s Rocket Repro. The rest of the Vancouver team includes Krischan Grohne as the IT whiz, Chris Mizzoni as our sports historian, Rachelle Lupton in social media and sales, and Blair’s wife Lisa Mervyn. Oh and Cal Ripken, our black lab who greets everyone at the door with a wag and an optimistic drop of the tennis ball at their feet.
Vintage Sports Images also actively engages the community of North Vancouver through a range of events at the gallery, partnering with companies like Hearthstone Brewery, MAN UP Grooming, and specialty hat purveyors The Nine O’Clock Gun Company.
Vintage Sports Images has donated prints to the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation’s Hope Centre for its Youth Mental Health Initiative, Hockey for the Homeless, Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey Association, and various fastpitch teams. The plan is to continue to give back and foster community in North Vancouver as much as we can. We hope you will visit our gallery, and if you can’t, follow us here and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
What to Expect at Our Gallery
Come in and have a look at our in-store canvases. If nothing on the floor catches your eye, we’ll bring you a latte and you can take a seat with one of our in-store iPads to browse our online store.
You can search by sport, athlete or team to find what interests you. Then – you can order from the iPad or directly from one of us humans in the retail gallery, we’re happy to help. Choose the size you need and pick it up from the store in 3-5 business days (or have it delivered to your door).
Still looking for that perfect image? Spend some time at the “Master Library” station where you will find thousands more images searchable by name or team. If it’s busy in the gallery, you can schedule an appointment, so that one of us can guide you through your search. Orders from the Master Library may take a little longer, but we will do our best!
Other products on site include smaller vintage products at various price points that complement our brand: The Nine O’Clock Gun Company provides unique, one-of-a-kind vintage baseball caps. Small sports prints on wood of your favourite team logos are handmade locally. We also feature some traditionally framed prints and custom orders from our framing partners DGL Sports Enterprises, who have also let us host signed rare signed jerseys and bats from Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle.
Vintage Sports Images is also showcasing original paintings from local artists Brendan Jang and Glen Green, including a Bobby Orr rookie painting, a stunning Sydney Crosby piece and a Mike Weir painting from the year he won the green jacket. Speaking of golf, we also have a collection of unique shots from famous courses around the world.
Whatever your tastes, if you are a sports fan, or you need a gift for a loved one, Vintage Sports Images is your one-stop shop for sports history happiness.
Blair Peters, Owner
The Vintage Sports Images Team