The economic stimulus bill for the U.S. economy is still in the works, but the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama is already giving a noticeable boost to the neighborhood where he will take the toast of office.
We counted at least 16 temporary retail kiosks set up around the cavernous halls of Union Station, devoted to hawking all things Obama. When he arrives at the massive train station just a 10-minute walk from where he will be inaugurated at the Capitol, the president-elect can snap up posters, commemorative buttons, baseball caps, keychains, flags and T-shirts bearing his likeness. The Union Station Barnes & Noble bookstore has two full stalls at its entrance offering nothing but Obama-related books.
A coffeeshop in the downstairs food court has been ripped up to provide space for six of the Obama souvenir kiosks, including one devoted to selling nothing but CDs of the president-elect’s most inspiring speeches.
But the economic payout will be tempered a bit for the Union Station retail tenants in the coming days.
The huge, convenient space is a popular site to be rented out for private inaugural festivities. A sign near the main doors facing the Capitol notes that the Main Hall will be closed at 5 p.m. Jan. 18, 19 and 20 for “private events.”