They were feeling the earn!
Two Park Slope teens did a hot trade in home-made Bernie Sanders T-shirts during his rally in Prospect Park on Sunday, taking on the cavalcade of professional vendors who follow the campaign around the country flogging Bernie-branded merchandise to his fans. The senator may preach peace and a “moral economy,” but the young entrepreneurs say the message hasn’t reached his attendant merchandise market.
“It was ruthless out there!” said 16-year-old Maxwell Quinn, who came to help his 17-year-old pal and fellow Millennium Brooklyn High School student Chance Landesmann sell his Sanders shirts to the crowd.
The pair say they first tried to market Landesmann’s designs to the those lining up to get in, but gave up when the out-of-town vendors kept swooping in, pushing their racks in front of the teens, and eventually found they were more successful hanging back to catch the 28,000 crowd members on their way in and out.
Landesmann says he ultimately sold around 40 shirts — which he designed and printed at his family home, and presented on a rack he and Quinn crafted from plastic pipes — for $10 a pop, reaping a profit of $350. Each shirt costs a “$3 and change” to make, and he will also pay his buddy for his help.
He won’t, however, be giving the Sanders campaign a cut of Sunday’s sales — even though he is a staunch supporter, and spent a time volunteering for the junior senator in Vermont.
Landesmann says he tried to price his shirts at $20, with $5 from each sale going to the presidential hopeful, but he just couldn’t compete with the bigger vendors and their mass-produced products, so he cut the cost — and the commission.
It was, he noted, a good lesson in how the free market works.
“It’s a really good model of the market,” said the teen T-shirt tycoon, who also sells shirts with his own designs online under the name Landesmann Exports. “Customers had a lot of choice, so prices went down.”
Most of the professional vendors claimed to give around 40 percent of their profits to the Sanders campaign, but Landesmann and Quinn were extremely skeptical, and didn’t think they could be covering their travel expenses if that were the case.
“That doesn’t seem realistic,” said Landesmann.
Many rally attendees said they don’t really care if shirt profits go to the candidate, anyway.
“I’m pretty sure they’re all just trying to make money,” said Manhattanite Josh Lorberblatt, who bought a shirt riffing on the Pabst Blue Ribbon logo while waiting in the line at 9 am. “But it’s good.”
Some, however, said they will go out of their way to purchase merchandise that helps financially fuel the Bern.
“Whenever I buy something I make sure the money goes to the campaign,” said Marine Parker Linda Gioia, who sported a Grateful Dead-inspired Sanders shirt she found online.
But Landesmann doesn’t think Sanders would mind the fact that he is making a few bucks off his campaign, and doesn’t think his fledgling business runs counter to any of the pol’s principles.
“Bernie doesn’t want to get rid of capitalism, he just wants to regulate it,” said Landesmann, who plans on attending Massachusetts liberal arts school Hampshire College in the fall. “Socialism is a very broad term — I consider it to be a free-market system that’s heavily regulated so that everyone is taken care of.”