The fiscal cliff, which could smack the economy and whip up another recession, has an unlikely flip side: profit.
But truth be told, it's a tough sell.
The fiscal cliff may be a real downer, but that doesn't mean some folks won't want a souvenir piece of it. There are fiscal cliff T-shirts -- even for dogs. And fiscal cliff teapots. And, yes, a fiscal cliff cookbook. There's more serious fiscal cliff merchandise, too, such as books about how to invest in its shadow.
Entrepreneurs have concocted souvenir products to make money off of every cultural event from Hurricane Sandy to Sarah Palin's unlikely vice presidential candidacy. But unlike many key societal moments in time, the fiscal cliff has hardly been a marketing bonanza. And, perhaps, with good reason.
Among the most obvious: It doesn't make people laugh, says Marc Cowlin, director of marketing at CafePress, a company that makes and sells novelty products designed by others -- then gives a 10% cut to the designer. It's offering several dozen fiscal-cliff-related products, but most are slow sellers, he says.
"The fiscal cliff has such negative emotion," says Jeff Lotman, CEO of Global Icons, a brand licensing firm. Folks may want to think twice before creating or purchasing merchandise around it, he says. "I'd advise them to save their money to pay for the tax increase that's coming."
Among the more unusual items:
Investor books. Fiscal Cliff Investing: Strategies for Investment Protection is an e-book. "That's the American entrepreneurial spirit," says author John Marsland, who has sold just 300 at $2.99 each. And he's given away about 700. His book's basic advice: Get out of stocks and into cash, gold or other non-stock investments.
Dog T-shirts. Alex Gold was at her local gym a few weeks ago when she noticed everyone watching experts on TV talking about the fiscal cliff. So the San Antonio resident figured there must be a market, even though she finds the topic boring.
She created a design that says "Cliff Happens." It's on $19.50 dog T-shirts and even $29.99 teapots. She hasn't sold any so far. But, she says, "I expect to sell some as things heat up."
Pajamas. "Due to the Fiscal Cliff, Santa will be Substituting I.O.U.s for all Presents and Stocking Stuffers." That's the saying that graphic designer Brian MacDougall created to be printed on everything from pajamas to baseball caps via CafePress. Alas, the resident of Lakewood, Ohio, admits he's still waiting for his first sale.
Cookbooks. On Amazon.com, folks can buy The Fiscal Cliff Cookbook: Eat Reasonably Well During the Apocalypse. It blends satire with real recipes, such as "Bring 'Em to Their Knees Grilled Cheese." Says author Stephen R. Winter, "Let's hope it makes some real coin so I can help with this cliff thing."
(c) Copyright 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
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