Community News

Do You Know the Trump Merch Man?

Lakin in front of his stand. Photo by Lauren O'Brien.

If you have ever driven on Rosecrans St., then you’ve probably passed Calvin Lakin, a man seated in front of McDonald’s selling Trump merchandise.

According to Lakin, he is employed by a company that puts up 16 stands in San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties. An article from The Coast News Group in July said Trump merchandise stands located throughout North County were owned and operated by Brown & Associates. The Point reached out to Brown & Associates and John Brown & Associates; both denied ownership of the stands.

“I have a background in sales and I had a business,” Lakin said. “But that business, almost the whole sector, just died during the COVID-19 situation, so my business and income dropped precipitously. I saw [the merchandise stand] ad in Craigslist.” 

Lakin said the job pays well.

“I’ve actually gotten back most of the income I was making on a weekly and monthly basis,” he said. “We do $500 to $1000 a day in sales. We have someone up in Bakersfield and within the first week, he had a $13,000 day and the guy up there manning it right now is averaging $6,000 to $7,000 a day in business.” 

“Trump is good for business,” Lakin said. “He’s good for the country; he’s good for the economy. It’s kind of ironic that all the networks that hate him so much get their best ratings, which translates directly to the bottom line by going after him amongst their hating audience. Trump is good for business whether you love him or hate him.”

According to Lakin, supporting President Trump places him on the receiving end of a lot of profanity. He said, “I get people coming by screaming at me.” 

During his interview with The Point, Lakin warned, “While you’re here, you will hear profanity at me and at Trump as people drive by.” 

Sure enough, one woman honked while driving by and flipped off Lakin. 

When a customer of Lakin’s and someone sitting outside of McDonald’s began arguing, Lakin dismissed himself to defuse the situation. He was quick to clarify the argument had nothing to do with the recently sold merchandise. 

One McDonald’s customer, who exited the drive-through, yelled out of their car window, “Biden 2020.” 

Others who drove by had opposite reactions, including some San Diego police officers who honked and waved.

According to an article from The San Diego Union-Tribune, Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the report of a man who allegedly vandalized a pro-President Trump stand and started a fight with the vendor on Oct. 9, 2020. 

“That was our stand up in Encinitas,” Lakin said. “Earlier, a couple hours before that, a young man, about in his 20s with a mask on, had threatened our seller with a knife. He had brandished a knife at him and then a couple hours later he came back with some other guys. When our seller walked to his car, they trashed his stand and ran. And that’s not the first time. It also happened out in Rancho San Diego with another seller.”

Lakin said nothing of that magnitude has happened at his stand.

“People are civil in Point Loma,” he continued. “Maybe it’s the military influence, maybe it’s a little more conservative, maybe people are just a little more ethical in Point Loma.” 

“But people will [show violence],” Lakin said. “I’ve had a few objects thrown at me from passing cars. They have actually hit sellers at other stands, like throwing a bottle of coke at someone and hitting the seller as they are speeding by in their car. Isn’t that crazy? Over politics.” 

In reflecting upon the violent measures people seem willing to take for their political beliefs and preferences, Lakin said, “Obviously on the scale of things, with what ANTIFA has done and what rioters are doing, [vandalizing merchandise stands] is fairly mild. But yet, it is acceptable to a certain political class in this country now.”

“It’s obvious to me that there has been a tear in the social fabric since people are not only behaving that way, but can find some kind of justification for it,” Lakin said, noting the burning of Chase and Union Banks in La Mesa in May. “It’s preposterous and unfortunately it’s trendy.”

Despite facing certain backlash from passers-by, Lakin enjoys his job and the conversations he has with members of the community. 

He said, “I’m a big Trump supporter, so this has actually been probably the funnest job I’ve had in years.” 

Contreras purchased merchandise from Lakin. Photo by Lauren O’Brien.

“I get all types of people coming by and talking politics,” he said. “You’d be surprised how many Hispanic [Trump supporters] come here to my stand and talk to me about how they are like black-sheep to a lot of their community, and how they refuse to just go along with the group, and how much they are condemned for thinking for themselves. It’s pretty interesting.”

Alexander Contreras was a customer who purchased merch from Lakin during The Point’s interview. He modeled a shirt and hat from the stand. 

Contreras said he wondered, “Should I go this far and actually buy something?”

“See, I’m a striker and a felon, and I can’t fight people out here, I’m the one who’s going to go down,” Contreras said. “But I know better than to threaten somebody. I’m not about that. I guess I’m learning to be a patriot. I’m in a transition mode from gang-member terrorist to patriot, all-American supporter. I just want to give back, and honestly with Trump, there’s some things I like about him and some things I don’t. These Democrats just want to take God out of the picture and they don’t know what they’re asking for.”

Lakin will continue serving customers from his spot on Rosecrans St. until Election Day on Nov. 3, 2020.

Written By: Charis Johnston