Space shuttle Endeavour vendors cash in on 'shuttlemania'
Randy Montano wasn’t planning on charging people to use his aerial lift. But when people started “throwing money” his way, space shuttle Endeavour’s journey through Los Angeles quickly became something of a business venture.
As Montano -- owner of a sign and graphics company along the shuttle route -- controlled the lift, people strolled up to him, asking the price.
"Whatever you want to give," Montano told one inquirer.
"I am never going to have the space shuttle near my shop again."
Endeavour arrived in Los Angeles last month with an air of majesty, soaring over ocean and mountains, swooping past the Hollywood sign and Disneyland, and dazzling crowds gazing up from the ground.
The shuttle lost a little of that grandeur Friday, towed by four trailers, inching down city streets from Los Angeles International Airport toward its new life as an exhibit at the California Science Center. But it was greeted with fanfare by large crowds who marveled at its sheer size against the city backdrop.
With the crowd came those who cashed in on what some called "shuttlemania."
By 10 a.m. Friday, the spacecraft had already earned Mitch Warner almost $500.
The wiry 28-year-old with a wide smile and booming voice walked up and down Sepulveda Boulevard hawking posters.
His main product: a poster of the shuttle with a small picture of President Obama in the corner. It read: "Once in a lifetime, Shuttle on Shaw."
At $5 to $10 a pop, Warner had sold about 50 posters Friday morning.
Increasingly as the day went on, opportunists took to what seemed like every corner.
"Postcards four for $1! Postcards four for $1," shouted Antwan Wells, one of many vendors trying to turn a profit from the throngs who turned out to catch a glimpse of the shuttle. Restaurants expanded their hours, teenagers hawked homemade T-shirts for $30 and school boosters set up a bake sale.
"It's crazy money," said Wells, who claimed he made $2,000 by early afternoon. "These postcards are going like hotcakes!"
For vendors like Wells, the spacecraft's itinerary was their business plan.
"I'm following it," he said.ALSO:
-- Times Staff
Photo: The space shuttle Endeavour on Crenshaw Drive. Credit: Andrew Khouri