For three years, a Bush-hating Vermont pipe carver has built a million-dollar business around the digits “01.20.09.”
On Jan. 20, 2009, Elliot Nachwalter and his company, “Bush’s Last Day,” will have to find new inspiration.
That’s the day President George W. Bush leaves the White House.
“I have a couple little products lined up. Both of them have nothing to do with politics,” Nachwalter said. “I’d like to think this time we won’t have to do another end-of-term button.”
First doodled on a dining room table, then slapped onto lapel buttons, “01.20.09” has become wildly popular.
“It was like a bulb, a light went off,” said Nachwalter, who drew it in a fit of pique prompted by Bush’s refusal to sign a piece of environmental legislation. “I started giving them out to my friends and anybody who thought it was interesting, and I couldn’t have enough of them. I said ‘Maybe I should think about selling them.'”
Now, more than 600 businesses across the country sell the T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers and other products that proclaim “01.20.09,” some with the subtext “Bush’s Last Day” and “Earth, Water, Air.” The Internet has spread the message — and the products — globally.
“The Web site became like a cult thing. Everybody would send it to their mailing list and things started to grow pretty rapidly,” Nachwalter said.
“01.20.09” has appeared in movies, on late-night television shows — even on a Humvee in Iraq. Meanwhile, “Bush’s Last Day” countdown key chains tick off the days, hours, minutes and seconds until Bush’s era ends at the White House.
Nachwalter started out in a closet, but quickly outgrew his space. Now, he and six employees work 16-hour days filling orders out of a Manchester industrial park.
The product line has grown as well. There are refrigerator magnets, coffee mugs, golf balls, greeting cards, even “Fire Bush Hot Sauce” and dog treats called “Bush Biskits.”
Photo by AP Photo/Toby Talbot.