Kiosk’s Obama 2012 Souvenirs

In 1960, there was a noisemaker that said “Click with Dick,” endorsing Richard Nixon for President. In 1964, a canned novelty beverage promoted Barry Goldwater’s candidacy (“Gold Water: The Right Drink for the Conservative Taste”). But these days, with Shepard Fairey’s once-inescapable “Hope” poster on the wane, you’d be hard-pressed to find an election souvenir of note beyond the usual bumper stickers, commemorative mugs, and buttons.Enter Kiosk, New York’s go-to retailer for quirky housewares and objects from around the world. This week, Kiosk owners Alisa Grifo and Marco ter haar Romeny released a collection of five pro-Obama souvenirs, which sport cheekily retrograde slogans and riff on American-made objects the shop already had in stock. A balsa-wood airplane from Massachusetts now says “Our guy is fly,” while the shop’s signature combs now come tagged with the phrase “We Shall Over Comb.” (For the paddle-ball, which encourages frustrated Democrats to pummel Romney’s face with a rubber ball, Grifo worked with a new manufacturer in New Hampshire.) “I’ve always liked election souvenirs, but I wasn’t hung up on them or anything,” Grifo says. “It’s more that I’ve been interested in the concept of souvenirs in general for a couple of years, but we never had any reason to make any.” In some ways you could argue that everything Kiosk has ever sold is a souvenir. The shop specializes in the kind of functional, well-made objects that natives of a certain country tend to use everyday but which tourists might not stumble upon unless they had a penchant for foreign hardware stores. But while Grifo sees the Obama collection as a natural extension of what the shop has been doing with its America-themed collections, this time there’s a mission attached — both to reinvent the political souvenir and to give this year’s lackluster campaign season a kick in the pants. (The proceeds from every sale go directly to the Obama campaign.) “We knew we’d offend some of our customers. But we’re feeling very passive this time around, and we just wanted to give people a little push.”