While Democratic candidates battle for the affection of Iowa voters, businesses are making the most of the contentious caucus season.
“The first part of preparing for the caucuses is the physical material,” Raygun owner Mike Draper told FOX Business’ Connell McShane while pointing to his stock of political T-shirts, “but the second part is just getting mentally prepared for all the attention.”
Draper’s store Raygun is known for its line of t-shirts with creative phrases, this primary season, the store is capitalizing on the more quotable phrases from the 2020 Democratic field. One of the shirts on offer has “I wrote the damn bill!” printed across its front—a catchline from Senator Bernie Sanders that made the crowd snicker during the first round of Democratic debates in Detroit.
Draper’s store also carries the candidates’ books and dolls resembling the presidential contenders.
“Normally we staff way down for January after December, but you’ll usually have about 10 percent more floor staff in January during the caucuses as you would and your sales over a regular January are going to be up anywhere from 25 to 30 percent,” Draper said.
Partnering with Draper is One Sweet Kitchen owner Brittney Haskins who is baking Iowa shaped cookies with Draper’s slogans frosted on, she told McShane. Haskins then sells these cookies alongside the t-shirts in Draper’s store.
“We’re projecting about 20 percent more revenue just from cookies and the caucuses this January as opposed to last January,” Haskins said.
The caucus season also brings higher earnings to the restaurant industry in Iowa cities like Des Moines. Chris Diebel, owner of restaurants Teddy Maroon’s and Bubba’s embraces Iowa’s privilege of casting the first ballots of the presidential primary season.
“Once every four years, Des Moines is the epicenter of the political world and we love it,” he said.
Diebel expects a 10 to 15 percent increase in sales at Bubba’s as a result of the primary season. His restaurant's host watch parties for the presidential debates, creating a “safe place,” for voters to gather and enjoy the politics on display without feeling pressured by any single campaign, he added.
Iowa businesses budget for the caucuses because it is such an important event for them, Catch Des Moines President and CEO Greg Edwards told McShane. Hotels in the city of Des Moines see more than $11 million worth of revenue in the week of the caucuses alone, he said.
“Because of the caucuses, we’re keeping up with really almost holiday levels of demand,” Diebel said.