Around the same time last year, Donald J. Trump was still president, and entrepreneurs across the country were making money selling t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs and other merchandise associated with the Make America Great Again brand.
Trump is no longer president, but Trump merchandising? It’s still going strong.
Weapons exhibits at state fairs, the traveling stalls and retail stores that proliferated during the 2020 campaign still happily promote the 45th President, even in the face of vandalism, pranks and protests. And their products have expanded to include slogans once used by Democrats.
T-shirts that show Trump’s face with the words Miss me yet? reproduce those which represented the face of Barack Obama four years ago. Hoodies that say Biden is not my president and signs that proclaim Dont Blame Me, I Voted for Trump sell well, even in the blue states of New England.
Signs outside the Trump Store read Trump 2024 Gear Now in Stock and Trump 2024 Ill Be Back! in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, Thursday, September 9, 2021. Caroline Gutman, for Deseret News
Keith Lambert, owner of a Rhode Island-based novelty business, operated 22 retail stores that sold Trump merchandise in the months leading up to the election. He’s now downsized to 3, in part because demand declined after the election and he struggled to find staff to keep stores open. But he found that demand for MAGA-themed merchandise exists outside of an election cycle.
Likewise, Trump retail stores in other parts of the country, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, are still in business and profitable.
Food and livestock fairs draw large crowds each year, but this year stalls, like the one selling flags in favor of former President Donald Trump, are getting a big backlash, with some guests ridiculing the fair for have authorized political goods.https: // t. co / 6VGV9MSE1G
Iowa’s News Now (@iowasnewsnow) September 7, 2021
The continued demand for Trump merchandise is aided by the widespread belief among Republicans that Biden did not legitimately win. As recently as August, two-thirds of Republicans in a Yahoo News / YouGov poll said they believed the election was rigged / stolen from Trump. More than a quarter of independents also said they believed Trump won.
This explains the popularity of Trump is Still My President signs and t-shirts, as well as many supporters who want revenge in 2024.
The appetite for MAGA merchandise doesn’t necessarily predict Trump would win if he ran again. But even before the election, stores selling products related to one politician were unprecedented. Their continued existence raises intriguing questions, including why aren’t there similar stores for Democrats?
Mike Domanico portrays a portrait inside the Trump Store in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, Thursday, September 9, 2021. Caroline Gutman, for Deseret News Save America Again
In 2020, most carnivals and state fairs were canceled due to the pandemic, depriving candidates of a traditional place to campaign and sell merchandise. But even without an election this year, a Trump store was operating at the Nebraska State Fair, sporting an increasingly popular sign: Trump 2024, Save America Again!
Local TV stations reported that some onlookers were unhappy with the stand which, unlike the stands of the Republican and Democratic parties, had pride of place on the main street of the fairgrounds.
But other suppliers of Trump merchandise have faced far worse than complaints. Last year, a Trump store in Wisconsin was vandalized by someone who broke into and threw bleach on merchandise. And Michael Domanico, owner of The Trump Store near Philadelphia, said someone calls the store every day and leaves a vulgar or offensive message, such as Do you have Klan outfits in big?
Mike Domanico speaks with a customer who purchased a Trump sign at the Trump Store in Bensalem, Pa., Thursday, September 9, 2021. Caroline Gutman, for Deseret News
Jeremy Boyts, a Missouri businessman who operates a pop-up Trump store that travels across the country, said Trump’s name has become so controversial that he changed his store name to The Traveling Patriot , largely to avoid social media. censors.
Especially after Jan.6, having Trump’s name on a physical location or Facebook page is no longer beneficial or secure, Boyts said. He said Facebook does not allow merchants to boost a post (that is, pay for more promotion) that contains the word Trump. Other conservative business owners, including the CEO of satirical website The Babylon Bee, have also accused the company of unfairly restricting or blocking their content.
A representative for Facebook said the company now has a permission process that people must go through before being allowed to promote posts or run other types of ads about a politician or election. She also highlighted Facebook’s 2020 announcement that the company would allow users to restrict ads related to political or social issues.
Domanico, owner of The Trump Store in Bensalem, Pa., Still operates a Facebook page in conjunction with his retail store, where his products include T-shirts that say Trump / DeSantis 2024 and Impeach Biden, as well as a sketch of Trump’s Terminator style with the words Ill Be Back!
A t-shirt on sale at the Trump Store reads Ill Be Back, in Bensalem, Pa., Thursday, September 9, 2021. Caroline Gutman, for Deseret News Pro-gun, anti-mask
Privately, some Trump supporters say they are hopeful that he does not run in 2024 and instead supports a candidate who promotes his policies and vision. Others are reluctant to start waving the Trump 2024 flag for fear of offending the prospective candidate if Trump decides not to run.
Trump 2024 is not selling as it should, Boyts said. One of my biggest Oklahoma supporters won’t even let me settle on his property just yet because, on his own terms, we don’t yet know if Trumps will be the nominee. He’s very well known in the community, and he just wants to support the Republican. … I think a lot of people are holding on.
But there are plenty of ways to sell to MAGA supporters who don’t refer to an election in three years.
Pro-gun merchandise is highly regarded by Trump supporters, making gun shows a destination for Trump pop-up shops, vendors said. Bidens’ recent struggles, particularly in Afghanistan, have led to an increase in demand for anti-Biden shirts, as well as pro-military and pro-police products. Products with slogans that highlight the COVID-19 controversy such as Unmask Our Children and My Body My Pick are also selling well, Lambert said.
In Green Bay, Wisconsin, the Be a Good Little Sheep and Wear Your Mask shirts are selling so well that Seth Hansen, owner of the Trump Store there, has ordered new shirts with the slogan Do Not Comply.
Hansen, who co-owns a roofing company specializing in storm damage, said the Trump store was a godsend during the pandemic, when his roofing company lost business to COVID-19. Trump merchandise sales declined after the election, but the store is still profitable, so much so that it is looking for a second location.
I could support my whole family with this, except for the censorship I get, Hansen said, saying his online sales have been affected by the temporary shutdowns of Facebook, TikTok, and Shopify.
The hood of Mike Domanicos van reads Trump 2024, in Bensalem, Pa. On Thursday, September 9, 2021. Caroline Gutman, for the Deseret News A shortage of Biden products
Todd L. Belt, director of the political management program at George Washington University in Washington, DC, told Deseret News in 2019 that he had never seen any other type of political merchandise take off in the same way as MAGA Trumps hats. The expansion of Trump merchandise to the point where retail stores are profitable can be explained, in part, by what Belt called identity performance.
Showing others which side you are on has become more magnified lately. And that was part of the hyperpartisan landscape, he said.
But on social media, people have noticed that there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent business opportunity for Democrats or Liberals.
Biden merchandise is available at the White House online gift shop and is made by private sellers at online stores like Zazzle and Etsy, but there are no traveling Biden stores, at least none, that be advertised. A Google search of the Biden pop-up store yields a Facebook page for a table in Tennessee where people were selling Biden buttons, signs and stickers. Eleven people responded to the message.
That said, the popularity of the Trump merchandise doesn’t necessarily match electoral college votes.
Last year, Boyts said, a local reporter asked him who he thought would win the election. I said I bet every dollar Trump wins because I don’t get calls from people wanting to buy Joe Biden stuff. You would have thought … but that’s not how it turned out.
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