Sunday, September 5, 2004

Shirts show where wearer draws line

Entrepreneurs take advantage of politics

By Karen Gutierrez
Enquirer staff writer

Oscar Harmon isn't the type to walk around shouting at people.

So he bought a T-shirt instead.

"America's Shame. Correct it!" reads the shirt, over a photo of President Bush with a red line through it.

"It's a lot more in-your-face than I normally am," admits Harmon, 70, a retired schoolteacher who lives in south Covington. "I just have some strong feelings about that man."

The shirt came from Endless Trends, a small shop on Scott Street in downtown Covington that saw a business opportunity in this year's election.

Owners Akmal Dixon and Tiant Turner are selling not only Bush's face but also John Kerry's, both with red lines through them. Buyers can choose their own words or let the photos speak for themselves.

Publicly, Dixon is staying neutral on the two candidates. But he hopes the shirts will inspire people.

"This is such a powerful election that everyone who is of age needs to go out and vote," Dixon said.

He's sold about 30 shirts so far. Several were for Bert Gibbons, a 60-year-old upholsterer who works across the street.

Never before has an election inspired him to buy such an angry T-shirt, Gibbons says.

"I hope I can engage somebody in conversation with it," he said.

Gibbons finds Northern Kentuckians a polite bunch, though. The most he has experienced was a mild argument in a restaurant that ended with another patron telling him, "You need help."

For Harmon, too, the shirt is a departure. He wears it often, but never to exercise sessions at St. Luke Hospital, where one acquaintance is a hard-core Republican

Plus, Harmon said, everybody there is a cardiac patient.

"I'm going to give it the soft sell," he said.


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