CHARLOTTE — Political conventions are a time for showcasing presidential nominees, discussing party platforms and creating communities around contentious political and economic issues. But they can also be a time for fun, creativity and consumerism, as proved by countless street vendors who camped right outside the Democratic National Convention proceedings all week. Pins, shirts, artwork and hand puppets were among the pro-Obama products sold by these merchants. The Chronicle’s Jack Mercola spoke to several vendors about their wares and interactions with convention guests.
“I sell so many of the ‘once you vote black, you never go back’ pins.... I can’t say if that’s accurate though. I wasn’t old enough to vote then.”
—Grant Harper, a button vendor from Mississippi
“This painting I call ‘Great Minds.’... Barack, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Mandela—these are the men that represent our struggle to overcome.”
—Andrew Nichols, a man selling paintings and posters from Charlotte
“Especially after her speech last night, we’ve been selling straight through the ‘I love Michelle’ bracelets—folks can’t get enough of her.”
—Khalilah Hasan, a bracelet merchant from Charlotte
“I’m painting the crowd outside of the DNC. I was doing the same thing at the RNC last week, and I made a painting of Obama’s inauguration speech.... I’ll be selling them in a series and donating the proceeds to an arts organization.
—Andrew Perchen, an artist from Sacramento, Ca.
“When I designed this shirt, I wanted it to be clear that Mitt Romney is America’s enemy.”
—Maggie Weaver, a T-shirt saleswoman from Mint Hill, N.C.
“...I like it when the protesters come by my table and make a scene. I can sell more that way.”
—Ben Frederick, a hand-puppet salesman from Charlotte
“‘Truckers for Obama’—I sold that one to a teenage girl.... I don’t think she was a trucker.”
—Melanie Stanton, a pin vendor from Unionville
“My favorite part of selling at the convention is meeting people—finding out where they come from, why they are here.... It is a community of people who all believe in democratic principles.”
—Xavier Allen, a tote bag and T-shirt merchant from Charlotte