May 4, 2011 / 9:05 PM / 7 years ago

U.S. demand for bin Laden memorabilia soars

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After 9/11, President George W. Bush famously urged Americans to shop to bolster a shocked U.S. economy. Now after Osama bin Laden’s killing, consumers are snapping up memorabilia of his dramatic killing.

The website Zazzle, which lets customers submit designs for items such as t-shirts and buttons, said Wednesday it has handled thousands of orders this week for merchandise related to Osama bin Laden’s death.

Marketing Director Mike Karns said Zazzle has fielded tens of thousands of submissions for designs, including one that was submitted Sunday almost an hour before U.S. President Barack Obama officially announced bin Laden’s death.

“It’s been boiling up for 10 years and this is the moment where people can finally express this sentiment,” Karns said.

Popular items include a keychain saying “Osama Bin Killed” with crosshairs over a caricature of bin Laden and t-shirts thanking the U.S. Navy Seals unit that killed him.

Street vendors from New York to Chicago and Washington have also been selling Osama merchandise this week.

Hastily designed mugs and T-shirts have appeared for sale online this week, many with bin Laden’s face, sometimes crassly doctored, with the word ‘DEAD’ scrawled in large letters.

“Sorry it took so long to get you a copy of my birth certificate. I was too busy killing Osama bin Laden,” said one T-shirt for sale for $22 on the CafePress website that offers customized T-shirts, posters, mugs and gifts.

Another shirt depicted bin Laden with a bloody gunshot wound in his forehead, another showed a soldier carrying an American flag and the words “We Got Him,” while another said, “Hey Osama, Tell Hitler We Said Hello.”

One online vendor, RedBubble, is selling a popular shirt saying “Hide and Seek Champion” with bin Laden’s face.

Reverend Chloe Breyer, executive director of the Interfaith Center of New York, said Bin Laden’s death shouldn’t be something that’s celebrated or commercialized.

“It’s one thing to give thanks after somebody who caused so much harm in the world will no longer be able to. It’s another thing to celebrate it,” she said. “I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

Online auction site eBay has seen a spike in bin Laden items. On Wednesday, hundreds of Monday’s newspapers were offered with headlines declaring the al Qaeda leader’s death.

Bob Connelly, a former board of director for the Auction Appraisers Association of America, said such newspapers are unlikely to ever have much value. For example, newspapers with headlines about the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy are lucky to fetch more than $8 today, he said.

Editing by Mark Egan and Jerry Norton

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