Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Localizing the business of campaign memorabilia

January 6, 2020

Share this article:

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
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?

More Like This...

The clock is ticking: Deadline for entries to the 2017 Barlett & Steele Awards is this Monday, July 31. (Image from Photoshot via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain)

The stakeholders of daylight saving time

On Nov. 1, households across the country will participate in two national rituals: taking down Halloween decorations, and, more urgently, setting their clocks back by an hour.  The biannual switch

Localizing the fight over gig economy legislation

Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) went into effect in California on January 1 amid much controversy. The bill was designed to combat worker misclassification and provide greater labor protections to gig

Get Two Minute Tips For Business Journalism Delivered To Your Email Every Tuesday

Two Minute Tips

Every Tuesday we send out a quick-read email with tips for business journalism. Sign up now and get one Tuesday.