By Doug Heye, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
One sign that Washington, D.C., had been home to Obama Mania was the number of independent retailers selling all sorts of Obama merchandise. Every street corner, it seemed, had Obama wares (or Obama wear) for sale. Now, however, most of the winter caps for sale are not emblazoned with the Obama logo. T-shirts depicting our president as a dunking Michael Jordan, a victorious Muhammad Ali, or saber-baring Luke Skywalker (yes, these shirts all existed) are nowhere to be found.
This time last year, the Obama Store was teeming with customers. Ideally situated in the basement of Washington’s Union Station, the store was filled with consumers eager to buy anything with Obama’s likeness while others took pictures of the life-size cut-outs of the president and first lady. Now, the Obama Store is boarded up.
How quickly things change in a year. The Obama Store was capitalism at its most brilliant rawness; find a market and exploit it quickly. The store made possible one-stop shopping for all of your tacky Obama merchandise needs. T-shirts! Hats! Calendars! Hand-warmers! Keychains! It was like something out of Spaceballs (“Obama: The Flame Thrower! The kids love this one.”). The store carried every imaginable product with the words “Obama” and “Commemorative,” except, notably, the Obama Chia Pet.
Of course, the closing of the Obama Store may not be due solely to Obama’s falling popularity. Perhaps the faltering economy (which Obama has nothing to do with, he keeps telling us) played a role. Regardless, the store was ideally situated to make big profits. Not only was it in the District of Columbia, where Obama won 93 percent of the vote, but Union Station is swarmed by the most wallet-opening demographic of them all—tourists!
Sure, polls are unanimous that support from Obama loyalists is receding, but polls pale in comparison to real anecdotal evidence. Last week, Amber Lee Ettinger, better known as “Obama Girl,” announced that she has fallen out of love with the president—leading to the question: If Obama has lost Obama Girl, has he lost America? Meanwhile, the Pepsi campaign that borrowed heavily from Obama has fizzled.
This Valentine’s Day, visitors to Union Station who had hoped to express their love for a significant other with a $20 pink T-shirt of Barack and Michelle Obama in a heart-shaped picture commemorating the “Presidential Romance” (or T-shirts of Obama and Joe Biden commemorating the “Presidential Bromance,” for that matter) may now be unable to do so. That the Obama Store—which apparently received no stimulus money—has closed may be the most tangible sign yet that the honeymoon is over.