The streets of Chicago sigh with empty storefronts, for these are not good times. Yet just a month ago it was the best of times, and I suggest we celebrate those times and fill these storefronts with a single bold initiative.
My idea is a chain of Barack Obama outlet stores -- warm, friendly, one-stop-shopping places where the joy of election night will linger forever. Trader O's would make a nice name. At a Trader O's the counters would groan under the weight of all the magnificent collectibles of the '08 crusade . For instance, the front page of the Wednesday Sun-Times announces, "FREE! Obama Collectors Print." It's the second in a series of "high-quality 8-by-10 photos...suitable for framing." But perhaps you missed the first in the series. Fear not. The whole collection would be yours at Trader O's.
Of course, the two Chicago papers are still peddling their own election keepsake editions. But did you know the Sun-Times has its own Web site, the Sun-Times Store Obama Central, with an array of Obama wares? The press plate, the Higgins poster -- and on and on. And here's the New York Times's "last-minute holiday gift guide" offering to ship you its keepsake victory edition in a "protective plastic envelope." And if you already have that, then what about the "set of Obama victory coffee mugs," the ones with the "comfortable C-shaped handle"? (To tell the truth, those handles look a little like the next president's ears.)
Want something a bit more upscale? Consider the "Barack Obama Presidential Commemorative," available in "pure silver clad" or "24 Karat Gold layered Edition"? These precious, coiny-looking things produced in "limited release" by the Washington Monetary Authority, each with its own Individually Numbered Certificate of Authenticity, might be hard to get your hands on any other way, but they'd be stocked at Trader O's. And so would Change in America, the "striking and realistic portrait of President-Elect Barack Obama delivering one of his most moving and impactful speeches" --- thnx artist Christopher Shannon for the heads-up via e-mail.
The bulk of the inventory would be provided by the Obama campaign itself. They've e-mailed me a couple of times, asking if I'd like to purchase a "commemorative 2008 victory Tshirt " or a "limited official edition Obama mug." Those fine items don't begin to exhaust the offical Obama catalog. There's also the "limited edition silver keychain," T's in white and navy blue, tank tops, tote bags, jewelry, water bottles, and much more paraphernalia.
What joy to have all these desirable commodities under one roof! A Trader O's would be a great place to do all your holiday shopping -- and don't forget that uncle in Houston who for some reason never did feel the magic. Maybe now he'll feel it with his morning coffee.