Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Vote your pocketbook

Go beyond bumper stickers - Election Day entrepreneurs offer everything from Bush Bops to flip-flops

By Lauren Bishop
Enquirer staff writer

kerry punch Politics may be predictable, but the entrepreneurial spirit it inspires is anything but dull. So why not spend the four weeks before Election Day swinging at a golf tee bearing President Bush's or Sen. John Kerry's likeness or smothering your freedom fries with W Ketchup?

These days, there are plenty more ways than just buttons or bumper stickers to show your political stripes. Will all of this stuff be obsolete by Nov. 3? Sure (unless, of course, this election is anything like 2000's). But you never know what might become a collectible years from now.

YOU can wear a different T-shirt every day until Nov. 2, thanks to organizations such as MTV's Rock the Vote ($14.99-$34, www.rockthevote.com) and P. Diddy's Citizen Change (www.citizenchange.com) , with those ominous "Vote or Die!" T-shirts ($28-$30 ). At www.declareyourself.com, find pro-voting T-shirts from designers Isaac Mizrahi, Todd Oldham and Richard Tyler ($20). Kerry supporters can buy an arsenal of anti-Bush shirts from Clothing of the American Mind ($25, www.clothingoftheamericanmind.com) and TaHo Tees ($15-$22, www.tahotees.com) .

Stop banging your head against a wall and try your hand at the Knockout Kerry or Battling Bush Bop Bag ($24 at Urban Outfitters, 2510 Ohio Ave., Clifton Heights, or www.rocketusa.com). Also available: 7-inch "Finger Bop" bags.

Political PeT Toy

is a squeaky toy that proclaims, "You can't get even but your pet can." Available: Bush, Kerry, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. $12 at Urban Outfitters, pet stores or www.politicalpettoys.com.

Take out your pent-up political aggression and work on your golf game with RivalTees, regulation tees. Village Junction, 10824 Montgomery Road, Sycamore Township, sells sets with one tee and one golf ball for $8.95. each. Single tees and packs of both Bush and Kerry tees are available at www.alumnigolf.com.

'Pat the Politician' is a spoof of the children's classic Pat the Bunny, billed as "ideal for today's disillusioned electorate." $9.95, bookstores.

Products point to election

THINK KERRY FLIP-FLOPS on the issues? A Nashville company has designed a watch (below) with a cartoon likeness of the Massachusetts senator flipping waffles and saying he's been "waffling since 1984." $29.95 at www.wafflewatch.com. Also available: real flip-flops: www.campaigncollectables.com ($9.95).

CANDIDATE IN A BOX features miniature American flags, balloons, "Vote for Me" buttons and red, white and blue streamers. $6.95, bookstores or www.runningpress.com.

YOU CAN'T FIND W KETCHUP at your local supermarket, but you can order it online if you don't want anything with the name Heinz in your house or the White House. $12 for a minimum order of four bottles, www.wketchup.com.

CINCINNATI-BASED PARODY PRODUCTIONS is tracking sales of its Bush and Kerry playing cards - featuring prominent members of both political parties and witty sayings - to predict who might be the winner. See results at www.2004deckpoll.com. $9.95 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Norwood, or at www.presidentialdeck.com.

SMART WOMEN has an election kit that contains a button, pencil, notebook, bumper sticker, temporary tattoos, magnet and a League of Women Voters voting guide. $13.50, www.smartwomenvote.com.

PLANT A BUSH in your yard - a 10-inch-tall ceramic one. Ohio University professor Sam Girton was inspired to create the Bushgnome after noticing editorial cartoonists' penchant for portraying the president with pointy ears. $29.95 at www.bushgnome.com.


Tips for spotting campaign collectibles

Trying to decide whether to spring for that Bushgnome? Larry Krug, chairman of public relations for the national group American Political Items Collectors, shares some tips on collecting campaign memorabilia.

• "We like to tell people, if you're starting out as a collector, collect things of interest to you," Krug says. "It doesn't matter what other people collect." If you think something is clever and cute, go for it, he says.

• Now's the time to buy. After the election, many companies that make campaign paraphernalia go out of business, Krug says. However, some established collectors wait to buy until a year or two after an election to see which items have more staying power, he says.

• Consider items that have crossover appeal. A fishing lure featuring President Clinton is now fetching $25 or $30 because it's hooked both Clinton fans and fishing lure collectors, Krug says. It originally sold for $4 at most, Krug says.

• Keep in mind that the winner of an election usually is more collectible than the loser, but not always. One of the priciest political items is a button featuring 1920 Democratic presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. James M. Cox and his running mate, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Krug says. Collectors have paid $40,000 to $50,000 for the buttons.

• Don't ignore leaflets, position papers and bumper stickers. They're not always showy and may not be of great value, but they have substance, Krug says.

• Go to political shows to find the best selection of political materials at the best prices. American Political Items Collectors is holding an event Oct. 29-30 at the Holiday Inn East, 4560 Hilton Corporate Drive, Columbus. An auction takes place 7 p.m. Oct. 29, and the show is 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 30. Both events are open to the public, and admission to the show is $1. For more information, call show manager Jack Dixey at (419) 529-9326 or visit apic.us.

--Lauren Bishop


E-mail lbishop@enquirer.com

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