As the presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders attracts more and more interest from around the country, it’s also inspiring a surge of support in surprising ways. Those include pro-Sanders displays on the bottoms of beer cans and on the sides of purses.
At the Burlington Beer Company in Williston, Vermont, brew master Joe Lemnah recently printed a message saying #FeelTheBern, a reference to Sanders, on the bottoms of cans of his Light in the Window IPA.
“It’s kind of like a little Easter egg, if you will,” Lemnah said, describing how a beer drinker may discover the slogan on the bottom of a can. “Politics and religion were always the things you don’t do with business, but I feel like those days are changing a little bit; where it’s safer to show how you actually feel.”
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The support from the craft beer producer, who said he admires how Sanders has long championed agricultural concerns, comes as the candidate is drawing huge crowds at rallies nationwide. In those appearances, Sanders often decries what he calls the outrage of income inequality, and pushes for a political revolution to strengthen the working class.
The enthusiasm level and size of the crowds at Sanders events has led some political observers to describe his candidacy as one that challenges the sense it’s inevitable that Hillary Clinton will walk away with the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
Along with that surge of interest from rally attendees, Flashbags, an accessories line, has seen a surge in business. The company, as did Sanders’ political career, launched in Burlington.
“I just sent some out to Wyoming,” said Erin Cain of Flashbags, showing necn several designs of Sanders purses, which she said are hot sellers with liberal customers. “I can’t actually seem to make them fast enough right now.”
Burlington graphic designer Dave Barron, who has a side business called The Bernie Shirt said he has shipped hundreds of the garments to nearly all 50 states. “Bernie brings an electricity to the race you don’t often see,” Barron said.
Barron told necn he is donating a tenth of his sales to Bernie 2016, noting that buyers seem energized by how the sometimes wild-haired senator focuses on the little guy. “Bernie fights for everybody, which you don’t see in every candidate.”
Barron also noted the shirts are printed by New Duds in Winooski, another small Vermont business.
In response to an inquiry from necn regarding the support from the Burlington Beer Company, Flashbags, The Bernie Shirt, and other independent businesses around Vermont, the Sanders campaign issued the following statement:
“These are all examples of the many ways that Bernie's message is resonating. This is part of the grassroots movement that is growing in Vermont and all over the country. People in different, creative ways are sending a message to the billionaire class that they can't have it all.”
Joe Lemnah said he did receive a complaint about his beer cans, from someone backing Hillary Clinton. But Lemnah said that will not stop him from “feeling the Bern.”