Meanwhile, the New Memorabilia Mounts
This may be the first time that seasoning packets have been sold as official inaugural memorabilia.
“They reflect the life style of the First Family,” said Lisa Goddard, assistant director of promotion for the Inaugural Committee.
Although President-elect George Bush and his family are developing a reputation more for their love of Chinese food than down-home Texas cooking, Goddard thought the items were “great. I don’t think I’ve ever seen seasoning mix in an inaugural catalogue. Someone here is cooking it up right now, and it smells great.”
The $7.50 trio of seasoning mixes--Texas chili, barbecue and gumbo--is one of 48 items in the official American Bicentennial Presidential Inaugural commemorative catalogue and is among the hundreds of souvenir items being sold by street vendors and local merchants as tourists descend on the town for inaugural festivities.
Outside the JW Marriott Hotel, one of the first of 20 official souvenir stands, vendor Bernard Lloyd reported that T-shirts ($10) and sweat shirts ($39.95) were selling well. He expected pennants to do better when the parade gets under way.
What wasn’t hot? A giant Nestles Crunch bar with inaugural stickers at $2. Displayed at the stand was a sample vanity inaugural license plate ($50 for six letters, good in all states) that was curiously stamped “NANCY.”
The Inaugural Committee’s catalogue also includes such pricey items as a Steuben glass eagle atop a crystal ball: $1,195. A Boehm porcelain eagle sells for the same price. But Goddard was quick to note that there were other, more affordable items, like a 95-cent inaugural book cover.
“One of the top criteria was that the items had to be affordable,” she said. They also had to be made in the United States.
Other “Bush life style” items include a $35 man’s golf shirt. “It looks like George Bush’s favorite golf shirt,” Goddard said. “He likes the way the pocket buttons and it has longer tails in back. And it’s his favorite color blue.”
Blue is the predominant color of the merchandise, including a travel umbrella ($20), coffee mug ($10) and hat and muffler set ($15).
Bush’s penchant for horseshoes is reflected in a horseshoe design belt buckle ($25) and key ring ($8).
Goddard wouldn’t speculate on how much the committee hopes to raise from sales of souvenirs.
“It’s hard to tell,” she said. “In 1985, we raised $2 million.” Considering that year the parade was canceled due to bad weather and it was the second inaugural for President Reagan, vendors are hopeful they’ll hear the happy ringing of cash registers this time around.
For the Democrats
There is even something for nostalgic Democrats--one street vendor had an old Mondale-Ferraro campaign button for sale.
The Inaugural Committee expects competition from other merchants waiting to cash in on memorabilia and from bootleggers.
“It’ll happen,” Goddard said. “Some of the things get bootlegged. But,” she sniffed, “it’s usually the sorts of things we’d never do anyway.”
Not all souvenirs being offered are reverential to the offices of President and vice president.
The Fit to a Tee T-shirt shops in Alexandria, Va., and Georgetown report good sales of a shirt emblazoned, “Hey George! You’ve just been elected president of the United States! What are you going to do now?” “I’m going to Disney World!” proclaims a smiling, waving Bush.
Another shirt features Bush and Vice President-elect Dan Quayle as wine-cooler hawkers Bartles & Jaymes. “Thanks for your support,” it reads.
Absent from most of the memorabilia, official and unofficial, are the likenesses of Quayle and his wife Marilyn. The Inaugural Committee catalogue merchandise features them on buttons and offers a color photo of Bush and Quayle in a “leather-like booklet” with the oaths of office ($17.50).
It’s customary with official commemoratives, Goddard explained, to concentrate on the likeness of the President.
That may disappoint some Los Angeles residents who were hoping for irreverent Quayle merchandise from friends visiting Washington.
But Quayle did turn up in public display, in a corner window at Garfinckel’s department store at 14th and F streets. There a display features a photo blow-up of George Bush. Standing behind him, partially hidden, is Dan Quayle.
“I’m not going to pretend to be witty or make any kind of comment. It was simply logistics,” explained Jeffrey Mattson, the store’s director of visual merchandising.
“We did it that way because of the size of the blow-ups,” he said. “We tried three or four possibilities, and this seems to be the one that worked best visually. I wasn’t sure that when I saw Quayle’s face behind Bush and cut off, that we wouldn’t get comments . . . a lot of people could find humor in that, depending on how they viewed the vice president.”
He has received no negative comments, so far. But if he did receive a call from an official wanting the window changed? “If someone raised a fuss, we’d try to come up with another solution. We’re not out to offend anyone.”