Do airport stores reflect local society?


Yesterday, when flying from Washington DC to Boston, I was struck by the total change in the Washington Ronald Reagen airport stores from what I have seen for the past year. The souvenir stores seem to have changed as quickly as the Massachusetts electorate did. T-shirts, posters and coffee mugs used to proclaim a love affair with Obama. Today, that’s not the case.

The rapidity of the shift is what caught me off guard, or perhaps, I just haven’t been paying attention as I walked through the terminal. Yesterday, however, I noticed.

I walked down the main terminal and found other shops with T-shirts and placards that would have never been displayed six months ago. Of course there are still displays of Obamaware, Obama posters, Obama pins, Obama pens and Obama calendars, but they are in the back of the stores and T-shirts blaring “Obamacare is going to be painful” and “Nope, keep the change” are out front. I saw no one posing next to the life-size Obama cutout.

During layovers in Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix and trips to New Orleans, one couldn’t help to know what teams were playing in football games and that they were doing well.

At the Dallas airport, wandering through the local stores, it is impossible to know that you haven’t landed in Texas. In Albuquerque, there is plenty of turquoise and cowboy and Indian stuff.

Do any of you see this kind of shift in national feelings and local enthusiasm displayed in airport stores? I find it kind of heartening. While at first glance airport stores might seem to be cookie-cutter affairs. On second glance they can tell another story about where you have landed and what the locals feel is important.

  • Amy

    Anyone caught buying or wearing any of those should be promptly detained by the authorities for crimes against fashion.

  • Terry Trippler

    This article is so true. I was at the MSP airport two days after the Vikings lost to the Saints for the Super Bowl. The purple jerseys were no longer front and center – replaced by Minnesota Twins!

    The purple was in the back of the store – on closeout!

  • Em Hoop

    I expect they display what sells for the moment….
    Is this a new poll of the flying public with spare money for fad “stuff”: The Fickle Meter?