Would you like a Trump souvenir with that?

donald trump, obama, putin souvenirs. photo by peter braig.
donald trump, obama, putin souvenirs. photo by peter braig.

As first-time visitors to New York, we have a lot on our to-do list: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, The Guggenheim, Central Park, The Met, Times Square, eat a hotdog, shop at Macy's ???

But after a few days of riding the subway, listening to taxi drivers and tuning into an increasingly outraged CNN or the taunts and teasing on tonight shows, we are forced to revise our itinerary: it's time to invest time and money in souvenirs celebrating the only topic in town - Donald Trump.

When a Trump tweet or meme makes its way onto a T-shirt or a badge just hours after going viral - covfefe??? anyone? - the race seems to be, in Democrat New York at least, to bag the funniest Trump memento.

And there are loads to choose from at just about every market and souvenir stall in the city.

Before we know it, we seek him here, we seek him there, we seek the 45th President of the United States everywhere.

And we are not disappointed.

Fancy a picture of Trumpty Dumpty sitting precariously on that famous wall of his?

Or perhaps tiny plastic Trump hands, sold in pairs and selling out fast. If you'd like these, you might also like to pick up - with your own hands - some Trump 'Small Hand Soap' to wash away any cares and woes those tiny ones may be carrying.

Care for some Trump Impeachmints in a handy tin to keep on your work desk? Or perhaps some Trump Embarrassmints for those who feel the shame. Better still, a badge boasting a particularly animated Kim Jong-un with the slogan "no longer craziest leader" or a beaming Barack Obama quipping "Missing me already?"

There is no shortage of hilarious, cutting and just plain stupid creations.

Of course, it has always been thus. America invented the slogan T-shirt and the political badge and the Bushes, the Clintons, Reagan, Nixon - even JFK - have all adorned souvenir items that are perhaps not quite presidential. But no matter your politics, Trump and his tweets have created such a cartoonish atmosphere that it is no wonder that the home of capitalism is cashing in big time.

Interestingly, it seems that the official Trump merchandise - and some would argue the official line - is not selling. Overall sales in the first six months of Mr Trump's new presidency were 13 per cent below those of the first six months after Mr Obama's 2013 inauguration, according to a New York Times report. The one exception is the famous red trucker cap with the words "Make America Great Again", a slogan that was used, funnily enough, by former Democrat and husband of that "nasty" woman, Bill Clinton, when he was running for office.

Despite the sales slump, there is no doubting that this is Trump's America. The signs are everywhere, including in the arms of a middle-aged woman we spot standing on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington DC on a freezing December morning.

The sign in question was made of cardboard and consisted of one word that spoke volumes: SHAME.

Why was she standing here in the cold?

"I just feel powerless. I had to do something."

How long would she stay?

"Not sure. I'm so angry. With Trump. The way he treats women ??? with the Roy Moore thing ??? the Tax bill ???"

She shook her head.

"I'm just so angry."

But back to the lighter side of this Trumpian twist in the American story.

In chilly Central Park, a Russian - yes Russian - stall owner is doing a roaring trade in Putin and Trump babushka nesting dolls. We buy a Putin after my husband's curiosity gets the better of him and he wonders out loud if a wee Trump may be hiding inside. (We have a quick look - all good, Yeltsin). At $US25 a pop we declare ourselves sad but smitten and we explain we are eager to get our hands on the 45th President but the vendor says that he is "all outta Trumps".

Maybe it was my crestfallen face, but in a flash he is on his mobile speaking animatedly in thick Russian in his heavy coat in the middle of the wintry park. We expect the CIA to arrive any minute. Instead, he turns to us excited - his wife has one Trump nesting babushka doll left in her stall outside The Met.

And so it turns out that while many others queue to see the Michelangelo exhibition, we go in search of another kind of masterpiece in a (much smaller) queue out the front.

We do indeed score the last Trump doll. It features Trump, Melania, and Barron on the front, while inside is Donald Junior, followed by Ivanka, then Eric. And finally, there's a very tiny Tiffany.



Qantas flies to New York via Los Angeles. See qantas.com.au


East Village Hotel 147 1st Avenue, New York. Rates vary. See eastvillagehotel.com. Four Seasons Downtown, 27 Barclay Street. From $US495 per night.


Trump trinkets: Try Union Square Holiday Market, Union Square Park, 14th St & Union Square; or pop-up stalls at Central Park and outside The Met.

Jane Richards travelled at her own expense.