Trump business opens online store for Trump merchandise

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Trump business opens online store for Trump merchandise

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Children wave U.S. and Chinese flags as President Donald Trump arrives at Beijing Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Beijing, China. Trump is on a five country trip through Asia traveling to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

NEW YORK (AP) — The company owned by President Donald Trump opened an online store on Wednesday to sell its branded apparel, golf gear and gifts to capitalize on the Trump family name.

The online Trump Store was featured on the Trump Organization website but otherwise launched with little fanfare. It features hats, bags, shirts and other items similar to ones you could buy at the company's golf resorts and hotels, but it also includes new items.

Many products appear manufactured abroad. The website's inventory includes items described as "Decorated in the USA," not "Made in the USA," including "Charlie the Beagle," a 12-inch stuffed dog with a blue ribbon with the Trump name on it.

The website says the dog was inspired by Eric and Lara Trump's own beagle, Charlie. It costs $35.

The dog appears similar to a 12-inch stuffed dog available from a website called Everything Branded. That dog is called "Buddy," and doesn't have a ribbon. It costs $7.61.

Trump has been criticized for not divesting his business, in particular his Washington hotel patronized by foreign diplomats and lobbyists, and for publicizing his golf clubs with his frequent trips to them.

Kathleen Clark, a government ethics lawyer who has been critical of the president, said she was not alarmed.

"Compared with all the other things he's done ... this is not in the top 20," said Clark, a professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. She added, though, that it "breaks the norm of behavior for American politicians."

Among dozens of Trump-branded items were a plastic coin bank shaped like bars of gold bullion, a "Trump Tall Latte Mug," and red baseball cap with an embroidered American flag on the side.

Unlike the "Make America Great Again" hats famous during the campaign, this hat simply says, "Trump."

A teddy bear sporting a black knit sweater with "Trump" embroidered on it will cost you $30. A strikingly similar one from Harrods is a third cheaper — just $20.32 — but it's wearing a polo shirt, and the name across the chest is the British department store, not the president's.

Amanda Miller, a Trump Organization spokeswoman, said the idea for the online store had been in the works for a while. She described it as a way to get goods in the hands of visitors to the company's many properties who want a reminder or souvenir.

"We realized that there was a void by not having an online presence," Miller said. "We listened to the feedback coming from our customers who were visiting Trump properties and wanted to take a piece of their experience home with them."

The new store comes as the Trump Organization has tried to take advantage of its famous name with two new hotel chains.

Under the leadership of Trump's sons, Eric and Donald Jr., the company launched a chain called Scion aimed at young business travelers. The other is called American Idea, which aims for "flea-market chic," with Americana items that show pride of place.

The rollouts have been slow. The only hotel deal to proceed to construction, a 95-room project in Cleveland, Mississippi, was initially slated for completion this year but has been pushed back to 2018.

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