MIDDLEBURY — A little piece of Vermont will be rolling through President Barak Obama’s second inauguration this week.
A limited-edition wooden toy limousine produced by Middlebury’s Maple Landmark is being sold by the official inauguration committee to defray the costs of the week’s activities in Washington, D.C.
The six-inch-long wooden car with wheels that turn is painted black, gray and gold and features the inscription “57th Presidential Inauguration, January 21, 2013.” It also has a small American flag on the fender.
“It’s pretty cool to be part of it,” said Maple Landmark owner Mike Rainville.
This is not the first time the company has had a hand in a presidential inauguration. Maple Landmark produced a limited-edition toy train engine commemorating the first Obama inauguration.
Rainville said the whole inauguration is a little bit smaller this time around, but he appreciated the business, nevertheless.
“For January we’ll take anything we can get,” he said.
Someone in the group planning the inauguration — the same woman with whom Maple Landmark worked in 2009 — called Rainville this past Dec. 28 asking if Maple Landmark could produce a wooden toy for this year’s festivities. It had to be a limousine, it had to be unique and it had to be in their hands quickly. So Rainville and his team kicked into high gear and performed design, toy testing and production at a lightning pace.
“We had to turn it around really fast,” Rainville said. “The first ones arrived in D.C. two weeks after that initial phone call.”
The Obama limousine toy is going for $20 on the presidential inauguration website — $2 less than the limited edition Obama trains that were made for the 2009 inauguration. Rainville said the retail price difference didn’t affect him; Maple Landmark got the same wholesale price for both orders.
“And they got the lion’s share of the retail price,” he said.
Like a lot of Maple Landmark’s toys, the Obama limousine was made for the client and sold as a limited-edition collectible only by the inauguration committee, not by Maple Landmark.
“It was strictly what they were able to sell at their storefront, online and wherever else they sell things,” Rainville said.
2012 was a good year for Maple Landmark, Rainville said, with sales being helped by, among other things, orders from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City for a wooden chess set crafted in a very contemporary style. As such, he was able to keep all his workers employed and “pretty busy” this month even though work usually slows down after the Christmas shopping season. Not only is the crew cranking out the Obama inauguration limousine and refilling depleted stocks of their traditionally popular wooden toys, but organizers of the NCAA Alpine and Nordic Skiing national championships, which will be held in Hancock and Ripton this winter, have asked Maple Landmark to produce an order of wooden starting markers that will be used in the cross-country races.
“We’re the local woodshop so they came to us,” Rainville said.