Licensed Trump Merchandise Has Almost Disappeared From Stores, But Trump Campaign Store Carries On
For years, Donald J. Trump has been making millions on his most profitable and enduring asset: his name. Through licensing agreements, the Trump Organization has been placing the Trump name on products ranging from furniture to wines and even steaks in an effort to capitalize on the value of a brand that has continued to make headlines for decades.
Now, despite making more headlines than ever, the Trump brand has seen licensing agreements disappear dramatically. In 2015, before Trump’s presidency, 19 companies were paying the Trump Organization to produce or distribute Trump-branded goods. Today, only two remain.
After Trump announced his presidential run, companies including Macy’s and Serta began ending their licensing agreements with the Trump Organization or allowing them to expire. While some companies, such as Macy’s, specifically cited candidate Trump’s comments about Mexicans, Muslims or immigrants in general as reasons why they saw fit to end the agreements, others simply stated that they had not sought to renew their agreements.
The decline in sales of externally licensed Trump-branded goods has been dramatic. In 2009, the company reported that its licensing partners had sold $215 million worth of Trump-branded goods worldwide. In 2017, Trump’s financial disclosure reported that royalties from licensed merchandise had fallen from $2.4 million to $370,000. The loss of licensing agreements has clearly cut into profits for the Trump Organization, but it hasn’t cut into its own sales of Trump-branded merchandise.
The clearest indication of this comes from the overwhelming popularity of the red Make America Great Again hats sold on Trump’s personal website. The hats have sold out many times over, and Christmas and Halloween editions have sold out as well. The latter hats, which went on sale the week before Halloween in 2017, sold out instantly. Both the Halloween and Christmas MAGA hats were sold for $45 each, while the classic red cap retails for $25.
The most wonderful time of the year is quickly approaching! Get the Official Merry Christmas Hat while supplies last! Embroidered w/ Christmas lights and "Merry Christmas" - this hat is a MUST HAVE for your holiday! https://t.co/SAbAFqr84m #MAGA #Christmas #perfectgift pic.twitter.com/PsncyCXp8C
— Alex Sarp (@sarpasaurus) November 16, 2017
In April 2017, the Trump campaign reported that it had sold more than half a million MAGA hats since summer 2015. And, in a December 2016 interview, Trump campaign store manager Alex Sarp (see above tweet) told Esquire the online shop was pulling $100,000 a day in sales. While current sales figures are uncertain, it’s pretty clear that Trump’s name can still move tons of merchandise.
Whether or not the Trump Organization will be able to salvage its lost licensing agreements remains up in the air, but it may have to wait for Trump’s presidency to be over before that happens. In any case, the power of the Trump brand endures, as prominent and widespread as a sea of red trucker hats on the horizon.