Purchasing power: Vendors, customers support candidacy of Obama through merchandise

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For Deliose White, money is no object when it comes to purchasing swag at the Democratic National Convention. The New Jersey native said she has been saving up her cash in preparation for the big event.

White, who has been in Charlotte since Tuesday, estimated she’s spent between $80-$90 so far on buttons, T-shirts and personal gifts for friends and family, including a book about first lady Michelle Obama for her grandson.

That’s money well spent on publicity for President Barack Obama, she said.

“These people will buy this stuff, go back to their hometowns and they will wear it and that will be promoting Barack Obama,” White said. “People like voting for a winner and they’ll see people with this Barack Obama attire on and their signs on their cards and they’ll be inspired to vote also.”

It was a common theme among the vendors, as well, many of whom were decked out in Obama merchandise of their own.

LisaBeth Weber
  • Caitlin O’Donnell
  • LisaBeth Weber

LisaBeth Weber considers herself as much a political activist as an artist. Since 1989, she has created and sold handmade pins in support of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, some of which have been worn by Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem.

Alongside her first pin, made in support of women’s choice, she has added a collection of pieces supporting marriage equality and the prevention of fracking.

“My heart lies with this type of work that can make a difference for people,” she said. “People tell me they start conversations. I call them spokespins.”

But for those not into politics? She even has a pin honoring man’s best friend.

Donald Wilson and Charlie Paulk used a different medium to spread their message of support for Barack Obama — music. The pair danced and sang along to the “Obama Shuffle,” a parody tune penned by Wilson spun off of the popular song “Cupid Shuffle.” By the middle of the day Thursday, Mays estimated he and Paulk had sold about 30 of the $5 tracks. Those not interested in purchasing were welcome to join in the dancing on the sidewalk.

“It’s for Barack,” Mays said. “We got to get him back in office. Some of the proceeds I give to his campaign.”

As much as vendors generally supported the re-election of Barack Obama, artist Andrew Nichol’s purpose runs much deeper.

“Andrew’s process is about ... recording people, persons, places and things,” said sales partner George Mays. “It’s about recording history and giving it back so people don’t forget the struggle.”

Nichol’s art featured images of famous African-American leaders from the past, including Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and both Obamas.

The large number of products was not lost on attendee Barbara Spigner, who estimated she spent at least $300 on memorabilia for herself, friends and family. She said she attended the convention in support of another four years for Obama.

“I think it’s important because they give us a souvenir and something we can remember this moment by,” said Springer, a Fayetteville resident. “I appreciate it and got some wonderful memories.”