NewsLocal News


Utah businesses capitalize on viral Bernie Sanders memes

Posted at 5:27 PM, Jan 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-23 20:21:14-05

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — Utah entrepreneurs are turning a viral photo from President Joe Biden's inauguration into big business opportunities.

The photo of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sitting cross-legged in a Burton coat and wool mittens has taken the internet by storm and has been spun-off into countless memes. Love Woolies, a Pleasant Grove company that makes handmade mittens, has had a big spike in sales since the photo of Sanders went viral.

"I did not sleep last night. I went to bed at about 4 a.m. just because the buzz," said Love Woolies owner Marcella Hill. "I mean I just... I don't even know what to do."

Hill said the demand for Love Woolies' mittens began just hours after the inauguration.

"A customer messaged me and said, 'Are these your mittens?'" Hill said, referencing the mittens Sanders was wearing in the photo. "I looked at them and I thought, 'Are these our mittens?'"

Although Sanders' mittens weren't made by Hill's team, the company has since received hundreds of orders from all around the country, equaling more than $15,000 in sales.

"Just in the last 2 days, we've done like $16,000 in just mittens," Hill added.

The surge in customers has also brought attention to their other products, which are all made from recycled wool sweaters.

"We have saved over 40,000 sweaters," Hill said. "We're selling more scrunchies, we're selling more of our beanies, we're selling more of our baby bows. I mean everything is up."

Sandy-based artist Chris Lavoie experienced similar demand after he turned the iconic photo of Sanders into a piece of stained-glass art.

"A good friend texted me and she said, 'You need to make this into a stained-glass piece,'" Lavoie said. "I saw it and immediately was like, 'Yeah, this is an iconic image.' My second thought was I have a perfect piece of glass for his mittens."

He said his Etsy shop has grown substantially since he listed the piece online.

"Until this happened, my Etsy shop had I think 80 or 100 views. Now it has almost 2,500," Lavoie added.

Lavoie has received messages from all over the world in support of his work.

"Australia, the UK, Canada," he said. "So, it's really far-reaching."

For Hill and the Love Woolies team, the next few days will be filled with a lot of sewing to fulfill the hundreds of orders.

"It's overwhelming. It's beyond words!" Hill said. "I don't know how to compute the numbers honestly, and we're just going to do what we can."