Trump is great for busi­ness, sou­venir shops say

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

VEN­DORS flogged ev­ery­thing from Trump whoopee cush­ions to bob­ble-head dolls, pam­phlets de­cried sharia law and pros­e­ly­tis­ers preached of Je­sus: Wel­come to the world out­side the gates of last week’s Repub­li­can con­ven­tion.

A man danc­ing in his un­der­pants, a mu­si­cian strum­ming Trump tunes and women of­fer­ing free hugs – a bustling street out­side the sports arena host­ing the jam­boree in Cleve­land was packed with sou­venir stalls and out­door cafes dur­ing the four-day con­ven­tion.

Lo­cal busi­nesses riffed on Trump’s cam­paign slo­gan “Make Amer­ica Great Again”, adapt­ing it into ad­ver­tis­ing gim­micks such as “Make Brunch Great Again” and “Make Feet Great Again”, by a com­pany sell­ing Trump socks.

And while some touts com­plained of slack trade and con­fided that Hil­lary Clin­ton prod­ucts sell bet­ter else­where, by day three of the Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion some were hap­pily pro­claim­ing Trump gold.

From home-baked cook­ies frosted with im­ages of the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee to bob­ble-head dolls and con­ser­va­tive par­o­dies por­tray­ing Clin­ton, the pre­sump­tive Demo­cratic nomi­ness, as the wicked witch in The Wiz­ard of Oz, sell­ers were hav­ing a field day.

Tya­sia Sav­age, 22, who flew home from Los An­ge­les to sell her grand­mother’s cus­tom-baked Trump cook­ies, said they were sell­ing like “hot­cakes” but the Clin­ton ver­sion, not so much.

“We stopped mak­ing them,” she ex­plained. “They say Repub­li­cans aren’t the nicest? They’ve been the nicest to me ac­tu­ally!”

“I love that it’s good for busi­ness,” she said of the Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion com­ing to her home town. “Cleve­land looks so pretty, they dressed it up re­ally nice.”

Down the street from a doom­sayer hand­ing out pam­phlets por­tray­ing sharia law as a threat, Brigid Hop­kins, 42, who called her­self an “epiphany mid­wife”, or life coach, said her of­fers of free hugs scored big as a treat.

“It re­leases oxy­tocin and lets them feel just great!” she said, adding that a visit­ing se­na­tor had been among those she had wel­comed.

“The vibe that I get is that it’s in­tense, be­ing in­side the dis­cus­sions and that we’re a breath of fresh air,” she laughed.

Mark Van­nuki, whose Trump bob­ble-head dolls have been fly­ing off the shelves since Jan­uary, said he was do­ing a roar­ing trade at six or seven lo­ca­tions dot­ted around Cleve­land.

“It’s been a big seller,” he said. Van­nuki is bring­ing out a Clin­ton doll this week for the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion in Philadel­phia but it is pro­jected to sell less well.

“I think peo­ple are in the mood for a change and they think that he can run the coun­try like a busi­ness,” he ex­plained.

A year ago, he ad­mit­ted, he never would have imag­ined be­ing at a Repub­li­can con­ven­tion nom­i­nat­ing Trump for pres­i­dent. Now he says he will vote for the New York bil­lion­aire in Novem­ber.

“We thought it was a joke at first. When it be­came [clear] it could be a par­tial re­al­ity, that’s when we geared up to make the prod­uct,” he said, wor­ried that he would run out of the US$20 doll.

De­spite some mis­giv­ings that the party is not united, and the small protests and an­gry dis­cus­sions on the street, some ven­dors said trade had been bet­ter than ex­pected.

Chris Hume says pro­ceeds from his Trump whoopee cush­ion, which he de­signed him­self, were go­ing to pro­gres­sive Democrats run­ning against vul­ner­a­ble Repub­li­cans in the 2016 Se­nate elec­tions.

“I’m just try­ing to make laugh­ter a lit­tle more preva­lent here be­cause there’s a lot of ten­sion in the coun­try and the world right now,” said the 50-yearold from Los An­ge­les.

“Peo­ple just love it. Even the cops are laugh­ing, even the Repub­li­cans – a lot of them find it funny.” –

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