LACONIA — Summer Albert, who manages a booth at Motorcycle Week, says one particular T-shirt has been flying off the shelf.
It contains the “Make America Great Again” slogan and shows President Donald Trump riding a motorcycle outside the White House with Hillary Clinton about to slip off the back. Trump’s T-shirt reads, “If you can read this, the b--ch fell off!”
“Anywhere we go, this sells,” Albert said. “That’s why we keep them in the front. These have been the most profitable across the country.”
T-shirts, some with pictures and slogans too off-color to mention here, are a staple of Motorcycle Week. There’s also a big selection of leather goods, whips, switchblade knives, sunglasses, helmets and gloves.
The merchandise is sold at booths that sprout like mushrooms at the start of the rally, staffed by merchants who work a circuit including bike events at Daytona Beach, Florida; Galveston, Texas; and Sturgis, South Dakota.
The businesses must pay Laconia a $450 licensing fee for the right to open a booth. It costs an additional $100 if they don’t pay in advance, and another $50 if they want to open the Friday before the rally begins.
City licensing official Lindsey Allen and Shannon Greenwood go booth to booth with a uniformed police officer to make sure everybody is paid up.
“A lot of them just wait because they know we're going to be here,” Allen said. “It’s more expensive but they decide that’s how they want to do it.”
Also, this year for the first time, the city is charging a fee for vendors who use six trademarks on their merchandise: “World's Oldest Motorcycle Rally,” “America's Original Riding Rally,” “In Laconia We Ride,” “Laconia Bike Week,” “Laconia Motorcycle Rally” and “Laconia Motorcycle Week.”
Six years ago, a Connecticut company called Good Sports Inc., which does business as Hot Leathers and sells items at motorcycle rallies and through retail outlets and online, registered the trademarks and gained exclusive rights to use these sayings on pins, patches and clothing. Those who wanted to sell items bearing these trademarks had to get permission from and pay a royalty fee to Good Sports.
Last summer, the City Council approved an agreement with Good Sports that assigned these trademarks to the city of Laconia.
Temporary vendors who wish to sell merchandise bearing these trademarks must submit an application to the city and pay an additional $500.
Money the city takes in during Motorcycle Week helps defray rally-associated expenses the city incurs.