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Vendors Selling Trump Merchandise Line Streets Of Cleveland


Outside of the convention hall in Cleveland, business is great. With tens of thousands of visitors to Cleveland, there is money to be made, and NPR's Nathan Rott reports merchandise sellers are out there regardless of their political leaning.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Souvenir time, who's ready now?

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: No matter what kind of RNC swag you're looking for there's someone selling it out on the streets of Cleveland.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: We've got shirts, we've got hats...

ROTT: ...They've got buttons and flags.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: We've got Trump bobbleheads here.

ROTT: There's even a joke-telling toy elephant.

COMPUTER-GENERATED VOICE: How can you tell when a Democrat is lying? When their mouth is moving.

ROTT: There are three broad types of merchandise sellers out here, politically speaking. Larry Rich is an example of the first. He's got a row of the ubiquitous red Make America Great Again hats at the top of his display rack.

You're not just selling the hats, you believe it.

LARRY RICH: I believe in it. I want the man in the White House.

ROTT: Rich is part of a group of sellers that goes where Trump goes, buying merchandise from the campaign at different stops and selling it outside for commissions. This is his 16th stop. He thinks Trump is the best candidate to help struggling Americans get back on their feet.

RICH: I tell everybody he's starting jobs, starting with me (laughter).

ROTT: There are a lot of folks like Rich out here on the streets. They believe in the message they're selling. Then there's the second group, people like Al Jones.

AL JONES: How are you guys doing?


JONES: Good. You guys feel like buying some new shirts?

ROTT: Jones is right outside of the convention area's main gate, and he's got a secret.

JONES: I'm - honestly, I'm a Bernie Sanders supporter all day long, man.

ROTT: He's no Trump fan, but he's still selling Trump merchandise.

JONES: Here's the deal. When you go to Wal-Mart or you go to Target they don't ask you your political beliefs. They just take your money. So I'm doing the same thing. I'm just taking their money. That's it (laughter).

ROTT: The third group is by far the smallest and the least lucrative here.

BEN THOMPSON: Our goal is to make sure Donald Trump does not get in the White House.

ROTT: This is Ben Thompson. He's selling merchandise that has Trump's face in a red circle with a line through it. And he's not just aiming at liberal anti-Trump protesters here in Cleveland, but Libertarians and conservatives who don't like their presumptive candidate either.

THOMPSON: Stop Trump, Never Trump folks - and we saw them at the convention last night. You know, if you could tell me how to get to their hotel room and deliver them a couple boxes, I'd love to do that, too.

ROTT: Surrounding the Republican National Convention, capitalism is truly king. Nathan Rott, NPR News, Cleveland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.
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