- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2017

If Jim Warlick had ignored famed statistician Nate Silver, who predicted a Hillary Clinton victory in November, he would be $100,000 richer.

That’s how much Mr. Warlick spent on Clinton-themed trinkets and tchotchkes for his presidential souvenir store, White House Gifts, in the months leading up to the election.

“I should’ve made him a business partner, and make him take some of the loss,” Mr. Warlick said jokingly of Mr. Silver, editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight.

Donald Trump’s surprise win prompted the store owner’s mad scramble to replace his Clinton T-shirts, buttons and mugs with as many Trump bobbleheads and baseball caps as possible.

Mr. Warlick, who has collected political memorabilia for 36 years, said he never had “pulled the trigger early” by stocking up on merchandise for just one candidate.

“I never was that stupid,” he said, adding that he, like many others, relied heavily on the prognostications from pollsters and political pundits.

But Mr. Warlick said his excess of Clinton mementos will not hurt his store’s bottom line: He plans to sell out of the items, now marked down by 25 percent, by the end of Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington.

Clinton- and Trump-related products will remain on the shelves at White House Gifts at least through April and May, when another wave of tourists will flood the District for cherry blossom season.

Overall, this year’s inauguration souvenir sales will not surpass those for President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, but most likely will be on par with those for President George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005, according to Mr. Warlick.

“This one is the hardest to project for in terms of what sales will be, because people felt so strongly on either side,” he said.

Chocolate Moose, a whimsical gift shop a half-mile from the White House, sells some of the more offbeat political trinkets on the market. But since November, the store has pared down its inventory of mocking knickknacks, particularly those tweaking the president-elect.

“We had some cross-the-line stuff, some mean-spirited stuff for both candidates around election time,” said Michele Cosby, the store’s owner. “Now we’re toning it down a bit.”

Before the election, the store struggled to keep one of its most popular items — Donald Trump toilet paper — in stock, despite its hefty $12 per roll price tag.

“I cannot tell you how much of that we sold,” Ms. Cosby said. “We used it a lot to decorate our display window.”

The store still stocks Trump-related stuff such as whoopee cushions and Halloween masks, but Ms. Cosby said her customer base, like most of the District, slants left politically and appreciates the humor.

“Everybody’s taken anything we’ve carried with good humor, regardless of what side of the aisle they’re on,” she said.

The Washington Welcome Center, like some other souvenir shops, is finding this inauguration a run-of-the-mill affair due to its more even mix of Washington, D.C., keepsakes and purely political tokens.

But store manager Dexter Morse said lingering angst from last year’s election cycle could extend sales for Trump and Clinton items well beyond inauguration weekend.

He said presidential memorabilia collectors, like himself, eventually pick up the last of the inauguration souvenirs.

“A lot of people collect stuff like this,” he said. “I wish I could find some Romney stuff from four years ago.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide