Mon, Jan 12, 2009 - Page 7 News List

‘Obamabilia’ ranges from ice cream to SmartCards


From beer to ice cream, lapel pins to T-shirts, if it has anything to do with US president-elect Barack Obama, it’s selling like hotcakes as people everywhere snap up souvenirs marking his inauguration.

“So many people want a memento of this historic time,” said Ann Hand, a jewelry maker in Washington who has made a collection of accessories to commemorate Obama’s swearing-in.

Hand offers cuff links featuring the red, white and blue ‘O’ logo of the Obama campaign, a necklace reprising Obama’s “Hope” theme, sunglasses encrusted with Swarovski crystal to spell out the name of the 44th US president and half a dozen other jewelry items.

None come cheap, but even in a slumping global economy, demand has been so strong that many of the accessories are on back order.

“Everything is selling better than I expected. We’re doing a lot of overseas orders — Hong Kong, Norway, Sweden, Singapore, Japan, Britain. We’ve never had that before,” said Hand, who has been in business for 20 years.

“It’s really wonderful to know that people overseas want our president’s lapel pin,” she said.

A shop selling official “Obamabilia” opened on Saturday in Washington, offering items like a T-shirt featuring artist Shepard Fairey’s iconic rendering of the president-elect under the words “Be the change” for US$30 and a small wooden train with the inaugural seal for US$22.

A Diane von Furstenberg tote bag was selling for US$70 and an organic cotton black T-shirt by Donna Karan for US$45.

“We’ve been swamped. I can’t even keep things on the shelves,” said shop manager Joe Reid, as Washington resident Deborah Watts left the shop with badges, pencils and a long-sleeve T-shirt.

“It’s a little pricey and the pencils are downright overpriced at US$2 a piece,” Watts said. “But I had to come and buy something official to remember this by.”

Claudia Jeanette of Michigan bought one of the wooden trains and a plastic blue piggy bank for her grandchildren.

“What’s funny is my husband works for a bank in Michigan and they give the exact same piggy banks away for free when people open a new account,” she said.

Obama fans can drink to and lick in the new president, too. The Capital City brewery is serving “Inaugurale” beer at its brasseries in Washington, including one in the shadow of the Capitol, where Obama will be sworn in.

Ben and Jerry’s has borrowed Obama’s “Yes we can” campaign slogan and rolled out “Yes Pecan” ice cream.

The official souvenir shop was offering a china plate for US$82, a beer stein for US$15 and stemless wineglasses for US$40 for a set of four.

The official souvenirs are available online too, and fans who don’t want to spend US$82 for a commemorative plate could always go for the Obama victory plate.

This “piece of fine porcelain with 22-karat gold trim” will remind proud purchasers for years to come of Obama’s “comforting smile and kind eyes,” according to the announcer who sells the victory plate in a TV ad that has spawned a series of spoof infomercials on YouTube.

Marvel Comics will next week release the 583rd adventure of the Amazing Spider-Man — featuring Obama.

Marvel decided to publish the Obama meets Spidey comic after learning the soon-to-be president of the US is a long-time fan of the web-spinning super hero.

“A Spider-Man fan moving into the Oval Office is an event that must be commemorated in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man,” Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada said.

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