Tea Party products sell well at flea markets
Elections always turn up the heat on the pressure cooker that is politics in America — and one way voters let off steam is by shopping for patriotic and political merchandise. “People seem to be very politically aware and very verbal about the direction they’d like to see things go,” says Gerda LaGrasse, a vendor at the USA Fleamarket in Port Richey, Fla. “And they’re looking for symbols that will convey that.”
According to The Daily Caller, a political news site, this is a boom time for Tea Party merchandise, which is outselling all other flavors of political products. Executives at CafePress, the popular online tee-shirt merchant, agree. On Oct. 15, the company announced that sales of Tea Party merchandise had quadrupled in the past six months. CafePress says that “Don’t Tread On Me” and “Revolution is Brewing” are two of the most popular tee-shirt slogans.
LaGrasse, who sells patriotic gear as a sideline to her holsters, gun purses, and concealed weapon accessories, says that “Don’t Tread On Me” merchandise is selling well. “It resonates very strongly, at least with my customer base.”
In fact, she has increased the number of items she carries as a result of increasing demand. “I did start stocking more and more of it at the request of my customers,” she says. “They were looking for specific things, so I tried to source it for them.”
Allen Olson, chairman of Columbia TEA Party of Columbia, S.C., says his political group held a very successful fundraiser selling political merchandise at the Barnyard Flea Market in the patriotically named town of Lexington. “Our fundraising committee sold Columbia TEA Party stuff — tee-shirts, lapel pins, and so on,” he says, mentioning that this is not merchandise that can be found in stores. “People are picking this stuff up to make a political statement,” he explains.
The group earned a surprising $500 in one day at its table at the flea market. “It was very successful,” he says. “That’s much more than we expected.”
Wholesaler Andy Fuqua says that his company has done well with Gadsden-theme products, which show the iconic coiled rattlesnake with the words ‘Don’t Tread On Me.’ His company, Ruffin Flag Co., sells a full line of patriotic and political merchandise. According to Fuqua, flea markets are doing well with these products because traditional stores won’t carry them. “While a brick-and-mortar guy is worried about his reputation, regardless of what his politics are, and might be a little reluctant to stand out,” he says, “in a flea market environment, a vendor is renting a table for a day, and he’s more likely to take a chance and make the money.”