Mary Kangethe saw something special in Barack Obama way before most others did.

The street vendor started selling Obama T-shirts, coffee mugs and hats at the corner of 11th and F streets in the heart of D.C. when Obama first arrived here in 2005 as a junior senator from Illinois. Back then, Obama was a virtual unknown, but Kangethe had a feeling it was only a matter of time.

“He was a unique guy,” Kangethe said. “I think the country has been rooting for someone unique for a long time now.”


Sales were slow at first, but things have only picked up.

“Since the summer (when Obama won the Democratic nomination), I’ve done a pretty decent business,” Kangethe said.

But inauguration day is the ultimate cash cow for a street vendor. Will it be the jackpot for Kangethe?

“Pray that it’s going to be a nice day,” she said. “Then (tourists) will come and buy.”

Other keepsakes you can find around town:

Obama bookends
Price: $39.99

Barack and Michelle Obama colouring books
Price: $12.95 apiece

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