Willie has a folding table set up on the corner of 7th Ave. and 28th St. – at the crossroads where the Garment District, the Flower District and Chelsea commingle – from which he sells political buttons. Monday through Friday from about 10 am to 7 pm, you’ll find Willie, a tall, thin, middle-aged black man sporting a gray goatee, manning his table. 

There are several varieties of Barack Obama and John McCain buttons covering every inch of the table’s surface. At one time a third of the real estate on his tabletop was occupied by Hillary Clinton buttons, but there’s not much call for them now – though he still keeps a few on hand, just in case a customer is looking for one.  

The pricing is straightforward: Buttons one-inch in diameter sell for $1, two inches cost $2 and three inches will set you back $3.Business is brisk and, not betraying his own political preferences, Willie fulfills every customer’s wish with a ready smile. No matter which button a customer buys, “I make money,” he notes gleefully. 

Willie restocks his inventory a couple of times a week, and always orders 300 Barack Obama buttons and 200 John McCain buttons. Since Sarah Palin buttons aren’t available yet, he found that folks are snapping up the McCain buttons instead. “I still have plenty of Obama buttons, but you see just these few McCain buttons? That’s all I have left.”  

He can’t wait to get his hands on the Palin buttons.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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