Shops Struggling To Ditch Livestrong Bands

Cape Town – Once a popular symbol of support for cancer patients, fallen cycling hero Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong wristbands have become a liability for local shops which cannot get rid of them.

“We’ve tried everything, even giving them away for free. But we still don’t have any takers,” said a salesman at the Cyclelab shop in Cape Town after a year of trying to move the unwanted stock.

It was an unforeseen challenge that hit cycling shops after Armstrong, the founder and chairman of the Livestrong Foundation which aids cancer patients, was unmasked as a cheat who doped his way to seven Tour de France titles.

Cyclelab had ordered 10 000 wristbands, but within months of the rider being banned from the sport sales dried up.

“There was massive demand for them when he first hit the news. But now, nothing. Nobody wants them at all,” said Tyron Swartz, a technician at the store – who still wears the yellow band around his wrist.

A drum, filled to the top with the wristbands, has even been placed at the store’s counter and customers are encouraged to grab a few freebies.

“Sometimes we wish someone just come and take them all,” said a salesman. “But they don’t even want to take just one.”

Andrew McLean, who runs the Cyclelab in Joburg, said he had preempted the hit in sales.

“We got rid of them soon after news broke about (Armstrong),”

A salesman at the Chris Willemse cycling store in Cape Town said the store had given away about 400 to 500 of the wristbands.

The Livestrong Foundation has spent the last year rebranding itself, but still sells the wristbands.

However, in July media reports said the charity was struggling to regain people’s trust.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods, who hit the headlines in 2009 after it emerged he had had a string of affairs, is still popular in South Africa. Sportmans Warehouse in Rondebosch said sales of the golfer’s branded caps were still going strong.

“Sales have never really dipped,” said the shop’s assistant manager. – Staff Reporter

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