LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - From Sarah Palin’s trademark Kazuo Kawasaki glasses, to gun-toting action figures and a large pumpkin carved with her face, the newcomer in the U.S. election campaign has sparked a rush of online novelties.
Other shoppers are rushing to copy the style of the Republican party’s vice-presidential candidate ahead of the November 4 vote.
Figures show online sales of items related to Palin, the governor of Alaska and self-described “hockey mom”, have shot up over fivefold, overtaking sales of the election’s three male contenders, and prompting a far wider range of merchandise.
Demand may be muted for a $125 pumpkin hand-carved with Palin’s face, but Palin wigs for $75 could be more appealing while a hockey puck featuring her photo, the U.S. flag and reading “Hockey Moms for Sarah Palin” is proving popular at $15.
A piece of uneaten toast titled “Sarah Palin on my toast! A sign? You be the judge,” was up for sale on the online auction site eBay, with 24 bids and one unbelievable offer of $7,100.
Karen Bard, an eBay spokeswoman, said the number of Palin related items has surged since Republican John McCain on August 29 named Palin, 44, as his running mate.
“The day after McCain popped the big question to Palin, 105 Palin items were listed on eBay. With the momentum from the Republican National Convention, Palin items took off peaking at 554 listing in one day,” Bard said.
She said over the past 30 days on eBay, over 4,000 Palin items have sold for an average of $5.61, with the highest item, an autographed photo of mother-of-five Palin, getting $499.99.
A quick check found 1,500 items related to Palin for sale on eBay, outnumbering 298 for Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden, while Democrat Barack Obama had 4,500 items to his name and McCain 1,750.
Obama and McCain can boast a vast array of books, posters, T-shirts and badges but Bard said Palin supporters were exercising their creative rights and freedom of speech by listing thousands of different items, mainly to show support.
These included Sarah Palin Barbie dolls and action figures, Palin beer Steins, T-shirts galore, and Palin thong underwear.
CafePress, an online store for independent retailers and political merchandise, was running a graph showing sales for Palin goods had overtaken items related to the others.
In the week ending Sept 13, her first week on the CafePress chart, Palin items accounted for 32 percent of weekly sales, topping McCain at 29 percent, Obama at 28 percent and Biden at 5 percent.
But it is not just the bizarre that is in demand. Followers of fashion want the former beauty queen’s looks.
Italee Optics, the U.S. distributor of Palin’s rimless frames by Japanese designer Kazuo Kawasaki, has reportedly run out of supplies after orders soared and has increased imports.
Shoe company Naughty Monkey has seen a similar rush for the open-toed red shoes that Palin wore on the day she was introduced as McCain’s running mate — and wig sellers are out in force.
“Hair stylists across the country are being barraged by clientele for the ‘Palin Up-do’ (with) women putting politics aside to admire an elegant hairstyle,” said a spokeswoman for Paula Young, a Massachusetts retailer of hairpieces and wigs.
Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Jill Serjeant