Online shops, street vendors and high-end boutiques around town are preparing for Friday’s inauguration with equal parts sincerity and snark as they try to cash in on fans and foes of the next president.
At Chocolate Moose, a novelty gift shop a half-mile from the White House, shelves are lined with Trump whoopee cushions and chocolate miniatures of the U.S. Capitol. The Trump mask, a Halloween favorite, is back in stock.
“Up to now, absolutely, it’s been all about the gag stuff,” said Michele Cosby, the store’s owner.
The best-selling item? Toilet paper emblazoned with Trump’s face. “We sold cases upon cases of it,” Cosby said. “And at $12 a roll, it wasn’t cheap.” (But, she added, she has since stopped selling the popular item: “Now that he’s our president-elect, we didn’t want to cross the line.”)
At the Great Republic, which has inauguration pop-up shops at the St. Regis and Mandarin Oriental hotels, revelers can pick up pens made of wood from the White House and hand-painted with portraits of the president-elect for $1,950 each.
Over in Georgetown, local jeweler Ann Hand has sold nearly 1,000 inaugural pins bearing Trump’s name and a slew of pavé stones. She is also selling inaugural cuff links, charm bracelets and a limited number of mother-of-pearl pins with Swarovski crystals for $250.
“We were astounded by the reaction that we got,” Hand said. “All these inaugurals seem to take on a life of their own — there are those who love their candidate and those who don’t.”
Jim Warlick, owner of White House Gifts, says he spent months buying $100,000 worth of items for the inauguration. There was just one problem: He had projected the wrong winner.
“So here we were, the day after the election, with a store full of Hillary T-shirts, mugs, wineglasses, you name it,” he said. “We didn’t have a single Trump item.”
Since then, he has amassed a collection of Trump merchandise, some serious, some silly — such as sunglasses that come with a mop of hair glued to the top. (He continues to sell the Clinton items, which are now marked down about 15 percent, and says he plans to sell out by Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington.)
“It’s been a very tough inaugural to buy for,” said Warlick, who began selling inauguration-related items in 1981. “Usually we only do pro-presidential items, but this time we also have ‘resistance products’ because people are so divided.”
A search for “Trump” on the crafts site Etsy turns up more than 18,000 results for T-shirts, bracelets, dolls and bumper stickers celebrating his win or bemoaning it. “Ask me about my feminist agenda,” says a sweatshirt selling for $24.90. There are pins that say “Deplorable lives matter” and handmade bracelets stamped with “Love trumps hate.”
But on District streets, vendors said they just haven’t seen as much demand this year for mugs, T-shirts, shot glasses and key chains as they did ahead of previous inaugurations. In a town where 91 percent of residents voted for Clinton, they say it has been difficult to sell Trump-related merchandise.
“We’re all dealing with the same dilemma: What quantity of shirts do we get?” said a vendor with a booth at Connecticut Avenue and K Street NW who declined to give his name. “Most of the people coming to town for the inauguration will leave, and we cannot afford to get stuck with all this Trump stuff. People in Washington resent the fact that we even carry these shirts.”
Warlick, of White House Gifts, says he’s expecting sales to pick up later this week. For now, a line of Michelle Obama merchandise continues to outsell both his Trump and Clinton inaugural lines.
“Sales have been nowhere near what they were with Clinton and Obama,” Warlick said, adding that he expects to sell about one-third the Trump merchandise as he did for Obama back in 2009. “Obama’s first inaugural was — to use Trump’s own words — yuge.”