From Obamaritas to Obama t-shirts, Edgartown businesses capitalize on the first family’s visit

In Edgartown, Sharky's Cantina manager Meaghan Hughes holds up an Obama-inspired tee-shirt. — Photo by Michelle Gross

“OBAMA RULES” is the legend that has attracted glances from photo-happy passersby in front of Portobello Road — an eclectic gift shop/variety store on Dock Street in downtown Edgartown. The 10-foot-long sign made of a refurbished piece of wood is meant to welcome the first family wholeheartedly, the store’s owner, Kevin Butler, explained.

“We’re excited that they’re here,” Mr. Butler said of the visit of the president and his family to the Vineyard. “I thought it would be a nice welcome and show them that we love the idea that they come here.”

Casual talks with several Edgartown business operators found that they shared Mr. Butler’s enthusiasm.

Mr. Butler said he got the idea to have a sign made after the Obamas’ 2011 vacation to Martha’s Vineyard. “This is a beautiful place, and this sign is a way to show some love and welcome him with open arms.”

A few doors away on Main Street, Backwater Trading Company is brandishing Obama inspired tee-shirts. Store manager Annie Cooke said Obama paraphernalia has been a hot commodity, a trend that started long before the first family arrived.

“We had Michelle Obama handbags and they sold like hotcakes,” Ms. Cooke said. The store now carries Obama tee-shirts and tank tops. “It’s a great way to promote local entrepreneurship,” Ms. Cooke said. “People get really into the spirit of the whole thing and become very patriotic when Obama is town.” The tee-shirts cost $20, the tank-tops $18.

Further along Main Street, businesswoman Sheila Allen Styles owns a boutique that bears her name. Although she said she’s not doing anything to promote the Obama visit, she’s happy just to have them here. “We’re happy they chose Martha’s Vineyard,” Ms. Allen Styles said. “But we support their privacy and hope they have a loving, family vacation.”

Sharky’s Cantina, the Mexican restaurant on Upper Main Street just before Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, offers Obamarita’s — a specialty margarita that mixes mandarin orange-puree and pineapple, a nod to President Obama’s Hawaiian heritage, Sharky’s manager Meaghan Hughes explained. Sharky’s is also selling Obamarita tee-shirts with the slogan “I drank my Obamarita on the Ba-rocks,” in the gift shop.

“They’re definitely selling well,” Ms. Hughes said of both the tee-shirts and the drinks. “And if Obama came in, I think he’d enjoy them too.”