Official Trump Merchandise Store Returns on GOP-Backed Platform After Shopify Ban
Three months ago, Shopify took down the official Trump Campaign and Trump Organization online stores. The decision came after the riot at the U.S. Capitol building, with Shopify saying that the sites “violated a policy that prohibits the support of organizations or people ‘that threaten or condone violence to further a cause.’”
Today, Trump merchandise is back on the web via WinRed, the Republican Party’s small-dollar fundraising platform (which recently had to refund millions in donations after failing to clearly disclose that contributions were recurring on a monthly basis.)
Since former president Trump hasn’t officially announced a 2024 presidential campaign (though he hasn’t ruled it out), all merchandise is ostensibly being sold to raise funds for the party’s 2022 midterm efforts and other nationwide elections.
The popularity of the red “MAGA” hats obviously went far beyond simply showing who someone voted for. Even after his four years in office, the hat acts as a representation for a particular political belief system. And since merchandise was such a substantial part of Trump’s initial campaign and eventual presidency, the party believes that these small-dollar transactions would make a difference for other candidates, especially given Trump's visibility and popularity among Republican voters.
The Trump team announced the merchandise comeback through text messages to supporters yesterday, announcing that they had “PRIORITY ACCESS” to the new merchandise store, which it also billed as “the ONLY place to get your OFFICIAL Trump Merchandise,” according to Politico.
Merchandise available on the site includes "Don't Blame Me I Voted For Trump" bumper stickers and T-shirts that read "Miss Me Yet?"
“[Trump’s] new fundraising effort for Save America will help keep this community intact and engaged, which will be crucial to Republicans winning back the House and Senate in 2022,” Trump adviser Jason Miller told Politico.
The Save America campaign was set up to funnel cash to Trump-backed candidates, something that he was concerned about after other GOP politicians used his name and/or likeness to fundraise for their own campaigns without his permission.
The decision to use WinRed came out of necessity more than anything, as Shopify and other platforms remain unwilling to host Trump-related sites or merchandise. With Trump no longer president, it’s unknown whether there will be the same demand for Trump-branded products.
“It’s going to be difficult for Trump to command the kind of attention he was used to when in the White House, especially given the limits platforms have placed on him,” Republican digital strategist Eric Wilson told Politico.
Trump is still indefinitely banned from social media sites like Twitter, so getting the word out about new merchandise isn’t as easy as it once was. He and his team have been sending out daily announcements through Campaign Nucleus, but since that only goes to people who sign up for announcements, rather than the potential for a wider audience on Twitter, it’s safe to assume that the merchandise announcements won’t have as wide of a reach, either.
But it’s also safe to assume that there will be at least an initial push for Trump-branded merchandise, now just shy of three months into the Biden administration and after merchandise silence from the Trump camp. It will likely ramp up again as 2022 campaigns gain steam, especially if Trump gives his support to particular candidates.