Donald Trump piñatas deliver smashing sales
It's almost always the hair.
When Lorena Robletto, a retailer in downtown Los Angeles' Piñata District, gets a call for a custom Donald Trump piñata, the focus is on the Republican presidential candidate's signature combover. Customers want a high-quality coif.
And there has not been a day in the last two months that Robletto hasn't sold at least one Donald Trump piñata at the colorful shop she co-owns, Amazing Piñatas.
"We've been steady, every day we sell a few," Robletto said.
The orders aren't just for her custom creations, but all of her paper mache Trumps are handmade.
Strolling through the Piñata District, where tightly-clustered shops brim with brightly-colored piñatas fluttering in the breeze, you can find visages of the GOP front-runner peeking out from the usual fare in several shops.
Trump piñatas first appeared in Mexico following the candidate's scathing remarks about Mexican immigrants during his campaign announcement last summer. That's when Robletto saw an opportunity to bring the political party prop to her shop. Trump piñatas are sold outside of the Piñata District, too, from San Francisco to Las Vegas.
Robletto estimates she's sold hundreds of Trump piñatas since last summer, with a single order recently requesting 150. Amazing Piñatas offers Trump in three sizes — a miniature version, a $35 generic version that stands about four-feet-tall, and a custom-order option, which starts at $120 but can cost more depending on the request. Recent custom piñatas have called for the little Trump to don a "Make America Great Again" cap, while another depicted the candidate with a donkey face.
Though many of Robletto's competitors sell imported Trump piñatas, Robletto is one of the few vendors in Los Angeles to hand-make the Trump piñatas, an attention to detail she says her customers appreciate.
"I think that we do have a niche because we like to do things a little different," Robletto said. "We're more creative in a sense."
Regardless of where they're made, most of the Trump piñatas found in the district share similar characteristics: tissue-paper blonde hair, blue eyes, a black suit and red tie. Robletto's custom versions tend to be shorter and rounder than the generic offerings, and of course, sporting more detailed hair.
In order to meet the demand for custom orders, Robletto employs as many as five workers at a time to produce the piñatas, which typically take a few days to complete.
Though many customers indicate they intend to bash Trump piñatas just like any other piñata, Robletto said not all those who purchase the paper mache likenesses are necessarily critics of the candidate. In fact, the higher-end custom orders have been especially popular among Trump supporters because they want to use them solely for decoration.
Also somewhat surprisingly, Robletto noted the majority of the customers who purchase the custom Trump piñatas are in their 20s and 30s, white and middle-class.
"They like the quality," Robletto said. "That's the most dominant group that come looking for high end [piñatas.] We have sold a lot of those expensive ones."
Robletto said she's been surprised by just how young the Trump piñata customer demographic skews.
"What I have seen, and it's been really interesting, are kids, the parents have brought them, like maybe 11, 10," Robletto said. "They come in with their minds set on buying a hero, Spiderman, whatever, and then when they look at Donald Trump, I guess it's what they hear, they say 'No, let's get Donald Trump instead.'"
Still, many vendors and customers in the Piñata District are Latino, and some political pundits, including University of Southern California professor of political science and public policy Christian Grose, view the piñatas as a means of expressing the demographic's feelings toward Trump.
"I am not surprised piñata sales of Donald Trump are booming in L.A.," Grose said. "Those buying Trump piñatas are voting with their wallets and their piñata sticks right now, and may be voting at the ballot box in November. It would not surprise me if Trump on a general election ballot resulted in increased turnout among Latino voters in the fall."
While Trump piñatas have provided a welcome bump in business for Amazing Piñatas, Robletto keeps busy seven days a week by offering piñatas for just about every occasion imaginable, in addition to making props for commercials, movies and television shows. The shop also recently received its first order for a custom-made Hillary Clinton piñata, and was even offered the opportunity to mass-produce Clinton and Trump piñatas for a retailer, though Robletto said she had to decline the proposal due to a small profit margin. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to Mashable's email regarding the the piñatas.
Robletto is working to create a website for Amazing Piñatas given the shop's recent spike in sales, but in the meantime, word-of-mouth and social media have contributed to the Trump piñata's popularity.
After seeing them discussed on a Reddit thread last month, Nolan Majors visited the Piñata District with a few friends to pick out his own paper mache Trump.
"I actually walked over to get it and while carrying the piñata back to my place a couple people stopped me to take pictures," Majors said. "We didn't get around to using it so it's standing around at my place. [Señor] Trump will have his day once we fill him to the brim with stale Tootsie Rolls."
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