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Localizing the business of campaign memorabilia

January 6, 2020

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As Election Day approaches, official and unofficial campaign merchandise is popping up across the country. Photo of "I Voted" stickers by Element5 Digital via Unsplash

The 2020 presidential election is less than a year away, so yard signs, buttons, bumper stickers, and other memorabilia are already out in full force. Thanks to inexpensive print on demand (POD) options, it’s relatively easy now for individuals or small businesses to create and sell unofficial campaign items. Are any enterprising locals setting up shop outside of town halls, rallies, or other campaign events? Or are they focusing on e-commerce? While presidential campaign memorabilia abounds, you’ll likely also find products promoting local candidates, too.

Questions to consider in covering campaign memorabilia

Who’s selling a decent volume of campaign memorabilia? How do sales this election cycle compare to previous elections? What are their most popular products? Why do they think that is?

What happens to memorabilia when a candidate drops out of the race or loses an election? Do products get deeply discounted or discarded? Many political collectors hold onto such items, so it might be worth including commentary from a local collector on their favorite pieces. Are any artifacts in their collections particularly valuable or noteworthy? The American Political Item Collectors is a membership group for this very interest.

What are the most unusual campaign items available locally? A quick Etsy search reveals an Elizabeth Warren-inspired soy candle, Joe Biden earrings, and a “For Pete’s Sake” enamel pin with Pete Buttigieg’s face. (Trump supporters have plenty of merch options, too, with T-shirts, mugs, and Christmas tree ornaments.) Pro tip: You can search Etsy products by geography if you enter a city or zip code.

Beyond the cottage industry of unofficial merchandise or humorous tongue-in-cheek products, the candidate’s official campaign items have to come from somewhere. Are any local businesses supplying T-shirts or other items for the campaigns? What kind of volume are they producing?

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