The week before the Women’s March on Jan. 21, protesters who were making signs helped fuel increased sales of poster boards by 33 percent and foam boards by 42 percent compared with the same week last year, the consumer research group NPD reported.
Political activism can be measured in several ways: by the number of signatories on a petition, demonstrators at a protest or donations to an organization.
Or, in some cases, the sale of art supplies.
The week before the Women’s March on Jan. 21 in cities across the United States, protesters who were making signs helped fuel increased sales of poster boards by 33 percent and foam boards by 42 percent compared with the same week last year, the consumer research group NPD reported recently. Poster and foam board sales from Jan. 15 to 21 totaled $4.1 million.
More than 6.5 million poster boards were sold in January, with nearly one-third sold during the week of the march. Sales of easel pads and flip charts grew by 28 percent, Leen Nsouli, an office supplies industry analyst at NPD, said in a blog post.
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Sales of the materials used to make the messages on the posters also increased that week: Specialty markers were up by 24 percent; permanent markers, 12 percent; glue, 27 percent; and scissors, 6 percent.
Sales of fabric paint the week before the march were at least three times higher compared with the other weeks in January, Nsouli wrote. A combined $6 million was spent from Jan. 15-21 on an array of art supplies, NPD said.
Courtney Weber of Washington had a combination sign-making/birthday party in her honor on Jan. 18 that about 25 people attended. Posters, paints and markers were everywhere, but getting the supplies was not easy.
“We were calling around for posters, and everyone was sold out for a five-mile radius,” she said, adding that she saw numerous signs at the march made from pieces of cardboard boxes.
Brendan Orsinger, an organizer for Showing Up For Racial Justice DC, said his members had such a difficult time finding art supplies that they went to hotels and got discarded bedsheets and pillowcases to serve as canvases for their messages.
Gillian Hanna, a shift manager at the Paper Source in Washington, said pink glitter wrapping paper was a big seller. Customers used it to cut out letters or for backgrounds for their signs, she said.
At Blick Art Materials on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, Ian Parsons, a sales associate, said there was “a huge influx of people” in January who were not the college students the store customarily sees.
“They were people who lived in the area, in SoHo, who wanted to get in on the protests,” he said.
Alan Lewis of Queens said his family spent about $30 on markers, poster board and related supplies at a local drugstore. His wife, Alison Gozzi-Lewis, his aunt and sisters-in-law helped prepare the signs, including one that said, “Nap time is over. #staywoke.”
They made about six signs and brought some blank ones. He said inspiration struck as they were on the Metro in Washington.
Lewis scrawled on one of the blank ones, “If you want a baby for president Grace 2020,” a reference to his daughter, who is almost 2, who went to the march.
He said the signs are in the trunk of his car, ready for the next protest.