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Early arrivals to Trump rally brought steady business for local stores

Donald Trump rallies the crowd in Lynden

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to an overflow crowd at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden, Wash., on Saturday, May 7, 2016.
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to an overflow crowd at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden, Wash., on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

While most of the community was experiencing a quiet and sunny Saturday morning, hundreds of people began lining up on the south entrance of the Northwest Fairgrounds hoping for a chance to see presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Before 8 a.m. people were already lining up and by 8:30 a.m. the line was in the hundreds for a rally that was expected to start around 3 p.m. The first 5,000 would be allowed into the event and many wanted to make sure they got in and were prepared with lawn chairs and bottles of water.

By the time Linda Kroon opened her store Folktales at 10 a.m. on 1885 Kok Road, she already had a line of people to look at across the street and people dropping in hoping to use the quilt store’s restroom. She was letting them go ahead, no matter what political party they represented.

She posted several banners on the front of her store, including one that looked like a ballot listing Republican Party, Democratic Party and a check mark next to Cocktail Party.

She was quite surprised to have a front-row seat to the waiting-for-Trump rallygoers; the campaign event wasn’t officially announced until Thursday evening, May 5.

“I love the fact that this is what America is about and that we can do this safely,” Kroon said, adding that she felt more amused than threatened that the Trump rally was lined up outside her business.

The crowds didn’t appear to be generating a lot of new business early on.

At the Cruisin Coffee stand in the Lynden Towne Plaza, employee Janice Johnson said they were seeing a steady number of customers, but most were regulars who were getting a look at the activity nearby. Johnson said the coffee stand was prepared for increased business in the afternoon as the warm weather would probably make people in the area hungry and thirsty.

I love the fact that this is what America is about and that we can do this safely.

Linda Kroon, owner of Folktales

Nearby businesses including McDonalds, Starbucks and Safeway appeared to be getting a consistent, but not overwhelming stream of customers throughout the morning

As the rally line began to build, the Trump merchandise tables starting popping up on the Kok Road sidewalks, whether it was “Make America Great Again” hats or the variety of shirts, buttons and bumper stickers. Many of these vendors appeared to be visiting Lynden from out of the area.

As for Kroon, she was hoping that the line didn’t take away from her regular business. Soon after opening she was getting phone calls from customers wondering if they could get to her store or whether the parking lot was full. In the morning the lot was mostly available for customers, as most people were using fairground parking lots.

With a variety of unusual quilting products and material, Kroon believed she might get more business exposure as Trump rally attendees dropped in. She’s operated the business for 21 years but still enjoys it when people discover her store.

“I get a lot of customers from Seattle and Canada, so I hope this (rally) will mean some new business,” Kroon said.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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