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Obama Inaugural Memorabilia Arrives in Washington Stores


The excitement of an Obama presidency in 2009 has spilled over to the U.S. retail business. Washington, D.C. souvenir stores expect record profits on inaugural sales as record numbers of people come to town to see the new president take the oath of office.

Shelly Martinez is in Washington on business -- and shopping. "It actually has Obama and Biden on that," she remarked about one item.

She's searching for the perfect inauguration souvenir for her dad. "I know he will keep it forever because he does that," she stated.

Martinez is one of thousands of shoppers joining Obama-mania in preparation for the inauguration.

One souvenir shop welcomes shoppers into a replica of the Oval Office, complete with a smiling president-elect.

Shoppers can also stand at a presidential podium before browsing the rows of keepsakes. You also can spice up your inauguration with Obama hot sauce. Or tee off with a few Obama golf balls.

"Last week I had a gal come in and ask me if I had Obama oven mitts -- did not expect that one," said Jeff Roquen of Political Americana.

But there is everything else -- from a 50 cent inaugural pencil to the Oval Office desk, which goes for $9,000.

So how much is the Obama cut-out? "The cut-out will cost you $36.99 or $39.12 with tax," store owner Jim Warlick told us.

He will open six political memorabilia stores just for the inauguration. "We are hiring 75 new people and will be open all night long," he added.

Warlick placed an order for 250,000 buttons. But because of early high demand, he has asked the official Obama manufacturer to set up an operation in Washington during the inauguration to produce buttons continuously. "Traditionally, buttons are our biggest seller because they are great gifts. You can give them away and they hold their value."

Outside, vendors line Washington streets, selling souvenirs from white vans. They say international sales are up. A couple of shoppers from London commented, "It's not only big in America, but it's big across the world; it's really caused a stir."

Sam Jun has worked one spot for 30 years. He expects his sales to increase more than 15 percent over the inauguration of President Bush. "Mr. Obama much, much better than Mr. George Bush," he said.

The District of Columbia government is limiting the number of vendors for Inauguration Day. Just 500 permits will be issued. The vendors can only employ three workers and each of them must go through an FBI background check.

Alyce Anderson is from the Washington area. She, like most shoppers, is buying inauguration souvenirs for posterity. "I buy stuff for keepsakes to pass down to my children and hopefully they will pass it down to their children and my great grandchildren," she said. "This is history."

On Inauguration Day, the streets will be packed and the shopping lines long. Everyone will be wanting to take home a reminder of when the first African American said, "I do solemnly swear..." and began his presidency.
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