Inauguration Sparks New Interest in Political Merchandise

With the presidential inauguration approaching, Vermont Teddy Bear in Shelburne said it is seeing renewed interest in its Donald Trump bear

The upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. President appears to have sparked new opportunities for entrepreneurs to try to generate profits. 

“It’s a natural,” said John Lika of Fuzzu in Waterbury, Vermont, describing the company’s politically-themed pet toys. “We’re bringing entertainment into the house.” 

Lika said Fuzzu had a successful 2016 selling comedic dog and cat toys depicting Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. 

To follow up that series, Fuzzu is starting 2017 by introducing toys with the likeness of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, who has emerged as a frequent subject of discussion in U.S. political circles in recent weeks. 

The Putin toys caricature the leader as a topless, tough-looking, and tattooed cowboy, with a squeaker hidden in his belly for dogs to chew on. 

“Our Trump sales are growing even after the election,” Lika said. “We thought things would calm down and settle down, but they’ve continued to grow. And now with Putin entering, it’s going to grow even more.” 

The Fuzzu toys are just one example of the intersection of politics and retail sales. 

With the presidential inauguration approaching, Vermont Teddy Bear in Shelburne said it is seeing renewed interest in its Donald Trump bear, which was released last year. 

“People are buying Trump bears as gag gifts, to give for people who aren’t very fond of Trump,” said Abby Temeles of Vermont Teddy Bear. “And they’re also buying him because there are those people out there that really love Trump and really want to mark his presidency.”

Opposition to the president-elect also appears to be helping “make America knit again.” 

At yarn stores across the northeast, including at a store called Yarn in Montpelier, pink varieties keep selling out. 

“It’s the fashion accessory of 2017,” joked Lee Youngman, the co-owner of Yarn. 

Youngman explained an online project is calling on women to knit pink hats with cat ears, and wear them when they attend protests in Washington and elsewhere right after Trump takes office. 

That project embraces the “P-word” in reference to old audio recorded by Access Hollywood in which Donald Trump used coarse language in boasting about grabbing women by the genitals. 

That recorded conversation has empowered women to want to “roar back,” project participants like Youngman have said. 

“Maybe your voice can be seen as well as heard,” Youngman told necn. “The image of all those bright pink hats all over this country is kind of a captivating image.”

Youngman noted one reason the project has been particularly popular in the Montpelier area is because there is a demonstration for women’s rights scheduled for January 21, the day after the inauguration.

That demonstration is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. at Montpelier High School, with participants marching to the lawn of the Vermont Statehouse to rally. 

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