Even before Joe Biden chose Kamala Harris as his running mate in August, Stephen Taren said his Wilkes-Barre printing business began making life-size cardboard cutouts of her.
“I had Biden/Harris cutouts done a week before he picked her because she was my pick,” said Taren, owner of Wet Paint Printing + Design on Horton Street. “We’ve been shipping out tons.”
Wet Paint Printing + Designs has been selling a variety of cardboard cutouts of both Biden and Harris and the two together to thousands of people all over U.S. as well as Canada and Mexico for prices ranging from about $50 to $70 on its website. Cuts are available on Amazon, eBay and websites for Walmart and Wayfair.
A cutout of Biden and Harris together has been the biggest seller in the days leading up to Wednesday’s inauguration, Taren said.
About 60% of Wet Paint’s cutout orders are placed through Amazon which Taren called “the mall to the world.”
Wet Paint and Advanced Graphics in Utah are two of the biggest companies in the U.S. that make and sell cardboard cutouts, he said. Of the 15 employees at Wet Paint, 10 are involved with making cutouts, he said.
He said cutouts of Harris are selling well because she has made history as the first woman, Black woman and the first South Asian woman elected vice-president.
“She is a historical, monumental figure now,” Taren said. “The week that he announced she was his pick, I sold 175 of Biden and Harris that weekend.”
About 90% of Wet Paint’s revenue comes from selling cardboard cutouts while the remaining 10% goes toward T-shirts, car graphics and signs, he said.
Wet Paint also makes and sells at least 12 different versions of life-size cutouts of Donald Trump and Taren said “he was selling great even after he lost” but sales dropped after the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
He said Trump’s cutouts were outselling Biden’s cutouts prior to the election but he said Trump’s base is “more rabid.”
“It’s a matter of personality. The more rabid the fan is, the better the sales of the cutout is,” Taren said. “Trump has been selling for four years and it’s been keeping this company going.”
Before Trump, Taren said cardboard cutouts of Pope Francis were big sellers when he visited Philadelphia in 2015.
“There was a pope phenomenon and that was a good year,” he said. “Will there be another phenomenon like Trump? I doubt it.”