- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 2021

“Let’s go Brandon” began as a chant, then it became a hit song, and now the anti-Biden rallying cry has given rise to a chain of stores in New England.

Let’s Go Brandon retail outlets have popped up in seven locations just in time for the holiday season. They’re offering T-shirts, hats, hoodies, mugs, magnets, stickers, flags and other merchandise inspired by the viral political euphemism.

The collection of seven shops, six in Massachusetts and one in Rhode Island, is the brainchild of Keith Lambert, founder of New England for Trump, who said the stores are resonating with customers eager to tout their opposition to President Biden.

“Sales are very good. We’ve got a lot of support. There’s a lot of excitement,” Mr. Lambert told The Washington Times. “People absolutely love coming out. Being in the atmosphere of a store, it’s a lot of fun.”

Mr. Lambert has experience in politically themed retail. He owned 22 New England for Trump stores, a business he started in 2019, but shut down many of them after President Trump’s 2020 election defeat.

Two months ago, he said, his customers began asking for Brandon-themed items.

SEE ALSO: Titleist bans ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ from personalized golf ball options

The slogan became popular after an NBC reporter mistakenly said on Oct. 2 that a NASCAR crowd chanting “F—- Joe Biden” was cheering “Let’s go, Brandon” for winning driver Brandon Brown.

That gave Mr. Lambert an idea: Retool his New England for Trump shops to ride the Brandon wave.

“We rebranded a couple of the stores as Let’s Go Brandon, and it was really popular, and so I opened up a new store [in North Attleboro], a Let’s Go Brandon, and everybody kind of went crazy,” Mr. Lambert said.

He now has Massachusetts locations in North Attleboro, Somerset, Bellingham, Easton, Hanson and East Bridgewater and a shop across the state line in Warwick, Rhode Island.

“A couple of them are [temporary] holiday stores, but we have core stores that have been open for a few years that we’re going to keep going,” Mr. Lambert said.

Not everybody is a fan. Some commenters on social media call the coded Biden insult rude and uncivil.

“You have a lot of nerve saying God Bless you when you are disrespecting the president of the USA,” a Massachusetts critic said in a post on Facebook.

After the community media outlet Patch ran a story about the store locations, one commenter responded, “Great! Now I know where not to go.”

Mr. Lambert said the stores have met with “a little pushback from the local crazies,” but the response has been positive for the most part.

“Honestly, it’s America,” he said. “We’re supposed to be free, we’re supposed to have freedom of speech, we’re supposed to be able to open for business. If somebody opened a business that was the Joe Biden store, I might laugh, but that would be it. I’m not going to try to get them to shut down.”

Also thriving is the Let’s Go Brandon online shop. After a segment about the stores aired last week on Newsmax, the website at nefortrump.com was overwhelmed with traffic.

“We’ve hired a bunch of people, probably about 12 to 15 people,” Mr. Lambert said. “For the most part, everybody’s happy, and it’s bringing people into the area.”

All Brandon, all the time

The Let’s Go Brandon retail outlets have emerged as the phenomenon moves beyond sports to the worlds of music, food, fashion and even competitive boat-decorating.

A vessel festooned with lights spelling out “Let’s Go Brandon” and “FJB” won the annual Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade contest Dec. 4 in Virginia, but the ship was later disqualified for displaying a political message.

“My boat was best in show to the crowd,” Bill Berger, the boat’s captain, told WAVY-TV in Norfolk. “They had the awards ceremony, and they presented me winning the best in show, and 48 hours later, I got the phone call I was disqualified. They said my boat was too political.”

The Yorktown Foundation issued an apology and promised to clarify its rules. It is required to steer clear of politics to maintain its status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

“To all the spectators in Yorktown on Saturday night, we apologize about the disruption to the holiday festivities, and we especially apologize to our family and friends in attendance that may have had to explain to their children the political nature of the message,” the foundation said in a Dec. 8 post on Facebook.

Songs with Brandon themes have become hits. In the past six weeks, rap songs by two different artists, Loza Alexander and Bryson Gray, have reached the No. 1 spot on an iTunes U.S. music chart.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, Colorado Republican, wore a red dress inscribed with “Let’s go Brandon” last month during a meeting with Mr. Trump. It was a swipe at the “Tax the Rich” dress worn by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, at the Met Gala in September.

“It’s not a phrase, it’s a movement,” Ms. Boebert tweeted.

Florida-based Solorzano’s Pizzeria generated headlines last month for offering pizzas with “FJB” and “LGB” spelled out in pepperoni. In Minnesota, Palubicki’s Family Market & Spirits, known for its decorated bakery items, added a “Let’s Go, Brandon” cookie to its menu in November, according to news reports.

Mr. Trump has jumped on the bandwagon. His Donald Trump online store now sells hats and T-shirts with the “Let’s Go, Brandon” slogan, which it calls “the most popular chant on the planet.”

Online retailers Amazon and Etsy offer no shortage of LGB merchandise, but Walmart last month removed a third-party seller of “Let’s go, Brandon” items in what may be a harbinger of a Brandon backlash.

The company prohibits products on its website that are “explicit, obscene, derogatory, etc.”

“Like other major online retailers, we operate an online marketplace that allows outside third-party sellers to offer merchandise to customers through our eCommerce platform,” Walmart told Insider. “We have reviewed these third-party marketplace products and they will be removed because they do not comply with our policies.”

Titleist has reportedly blocked sales of golf balls printed with the “Let’s go, Brandon” message.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the “Let’s go, Brandon” sensation at a Nov. 12 press conference. She said Mr. Biden isn’t concerned.

“I don’t think he spends much time focused on it or thinking about it,” she said.

• Jacob Calvin Meyer contributed to this report.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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