Souvenirs cash in on Trump's popularity

Mrs Mary Puckett travelled 1,200 km from Atlanta to sell her Trump for President gear in downtown Cleveland where the Republican National Convention is in progress.
Mrs Mary Puckett travelled 1,200 km from Atlanta to sell her Trump for President gear in downtown Cleveland where the Republican National Convention is in progress.ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
High-priced Republican trinkets sold by Timmy Woods of Beverly Hills.
High-priced Republican trinkets sold by Timmy Woods of Beverly Hills.ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
Clevelander Jenn Truchon sells T-shirts and other items made by her local @gvartwork company at the Freedom Marketplace.
Clevelander Jenn Truchon sells T-shirts and other items made by her local @gvartwork company at the Freedom Marketplace.ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
An etch-a-sketch of Donald Trump at the @gvartwork booth at Freedom Marketplace.
An etch-a-sketch of Donald Trump at the @gvartwork booth at Freedom Marketplace.ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
A young woman sells Trump shirts for as much as US$60 (S$81.40) at Freedom Marketplace.
A young woman sells Trump shirts for as much as US$60 (S$81.40) at Freedom Marketplace.ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
The Republican National Committee opened a "Freedom Marketplace" in the Cleveland Indians baseball stadium next to the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball arena where their convention is being held.
The Republican National Committee opened a "Freedom Marketplace" in the Cleveland Indians baseball stadium next to the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball arena where their convention is being held.ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
Chris Hume of Los Angeles came to Cleveland just to sell his Donald Trump Gas Bag outside the Republican National Convention.
Chris Hume of Los Angeles came to Cleveland just to sell his Donald Trump Gas Bag outside the Republican National Convention.ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
Lapel pins being sold on the streets of Downtown Cleveland during the Republican National Convention.
Lapel pins being sold on the streets of Downtown Cleveland during the Republican National Convention.ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
A young woman sells pro-Trump T-shirts and more at the Republican's Freedom Marketplace in Cleveland.
A young woman sells pro-Trump T-shirts and more at the Republican's Freedom Marketplace in Cleveland.ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH

CLEVELAND - Mr Chris Hume came nearly 4,000km from California just to peddle his latest invention - and his politics along with it - on the streets of Cleveland this week. 

For US$10 (S$13.56) each, he’s selling The Donald Trump Gas Bag or Whoopee Cushion.

“Business has been pretty good,” he said, as he blew one up then let the air out with a rude sound to demonstrate how it works. If it is any indication that unbridled capitalism is at the heart of Republican politics, a walk around downtown Cleveland during the party’s convention provides plenty of proof. 

People from all around the United States have flocked here and put up their stalls to sell Mr Trump, both as a joke and as their choice for the next President of the United States. 

Mrs Mary Puckett was selling T-shirts, pins and other items - some with the words Trump for President and others that said Hillary for Prison - to show her support for, and cash in on, the official Republican nominee. 

She too financed her trip to Cleveland, driving up from her home 1,200km away in Atlanta, Georgia. She grumbled about paying US$400 a night to stay in a 2-star hotel - without mentioning that inflated hotel rates are just another sign of capitalism at work when rooms are at a premium. 

Despite her choice location at the corner of the E. 4th Street cafe district packed with delegates, protesters and gawkers alike, she said business was slow, but hoped it would pick up now that Mr Trump is the official candidate. 

Mrs Puckett did crack a smile about what she was doing, after retiring. “My entrepreneur spirit was awakened,” she said. 

Another entrepreneur who set up temporary shop on street corners around the city sold The Donald’s Trump Flakes, a breakfast cereal apparently billed as a collectible, at US$40 a box. 

For a more reasonable US$12 each, shoppers could buy “MELONia” or “TRUMPtation” air fresheners, named for Mr Trump and his wife, Melania.

An even bigger bargain was a Hillary Clinton condom, marketed “For slick willies”, and The Donald Trump condom with the warning “Not for use on Megyn Kelly”. Ms Kelly is a Fox News anchor who clashed with Mr Trump in the past. Each item was just US$5. 

The Republican Party itself set up what they call a temporary “Freedom Marketplace” in the Cleveland Indians baseball stadium. It’s in the heart of the security zone, right next door to Quicken Loans Arena which is home of the Cleveland Cavaliers and, for four days this week, the Republican National Convention.

There, more high-end boutiques and shops were invited to sell more decidedly respectable goods such as patriotic wear from a Martha’s Vineyard boutique. 

One of the most unique items in the rows of tents were prints of Mr Trump and other celebrities originally done on an old-fashioned Etch A Sketch.

Ms Jenn Truchon, 25, explained that GV Art +Design was a local company and that its 35-year-old founder George Vlosich III loved doing art on his Etch A Sketch as a kid. He takes 70-80 hours for each work of art, some having sold for as much as US$10,000. 

Although the booth features Republican-themed items such as T-shirts and caps, Ms Truchon, the firm’s business manager, was diplomatic when asked who she would support in the upcoming US presidential election.

She thought for a moment, then said: “I haven’t decided yet.”