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Selling everything Obama

January 25, 2009 |  5:37 pm

In Washington, D.C., life is returning to normal after the inauguration. The Metro is uncrowded, the streets are unblocked -- and the Everything Obama Store is packing up to close.  Its proprietors are planning their return to Los Angeles.

On a clear but frigid Sunday afternoon, Debra Smith and her sisters and friends were still selling racks of T-shirts, sweatshirts and woolen scarves adorned with "Obama" or his picture even as they dismantled their pop-up store on the newly trendy little stretch of U Street NW.

They opened Jan. 14, the Wednesday before the inauguration. "We had people from Ireland, Brazil, Kenya, a lot of Germans," said Smith, 49, a self-described entrepreneur who lives in Windsor Hills.

They sold, well, everything Obama. "We had buttons, magnets, flip-flops and even an air freshener," said Smith, dashing to the back to retrieve a 3-inch-high Obama doll on a looped string.

"I said, 'Did you smell Barack today? He smells like hope.' "

Actually, he smells mostly like soap.

They started off selling souvenirs in Ladera Heights on the street in front of a bank back in October and did well.  "We thought if we could do this, well, imagine what we could do during inauguration," said Smith, attired in a long-sleeved tee with "Obama" in glittery letters.

As customers browsed, she and her friends packed boxes. Among Smith's helpers was former tennis star Zina Garrison, who lives in Bowie, Md.

"I've been training to become a life coach," said Garrison, 45, sporting a knit cap emblazoned with a sparkly "Obama" as she wielded a large roll of packing tape.

Smith says she paid $3,800 rent for 10 days. She wouldn't say what profit she made but insisted business was good -- and she said she was donating a portion of her proceeds to the Lincoln Family Life Center in L.A.  She also says they will keep selling online at www.everythingobamaonline.com.

"We're like gypsies," Smith said. "We go where what's hot. And Obama is hot."

-- Carla Hall

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