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Memes of Bernie Sanders' mittens draw unexpected interest to Utah business

By Andrew Adams, KSL TV | Posted - Jan. 22, 2021 at 9:14 a.m.


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PLEASANT GROVE – One of the most talked-about images from Inauguration Day was one nobody saw coming — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., seated with legs crossed, arms folded and sporting very noticeable sweater mittens.

The original picture Wednesday went viral in the form of countless memes.

From Breakfast Club Bernie to Bernie in that famed scene from the movie, "Ghost," the internet had a field day.

At Love Woolies in Pleasant Grove, the social media sensation brought unexpected interest.

"My customers were sending me messages like, 'Are these your mittens?'" owner Marcella Hill said. "I was like, 'What are we talking about?'"

She soon figured it out.

"And now — thanks to Bernie — we're selling mittens now," Hill said.

While the mittens Bernie wore were made and given to him by Vermont school teacher Jen Ellis, the ones made by Marcella Hill are similar.

Hill said mitten sales typically hit the deep freeze after Christmas, but that was no longer the case Thursday.

"I think we sold 35 (pairs of) mittens so far just today," Hill said. "That doesn't sound like a lot — but for us, that's a lot."

As a result, Love Woolies had already started to ramp up production of its mittens, which it sells for $45 to $60 depending on the fabrics used.

In a year when many businesses have struggled to face the new realities of the pandemic, Love Woolies has managed to expand its operations considerably — moving essentially out of Hill's house to a warehouse space.

Hill said her business made only $35,000 in 2019, but in 2020 it brought in over $750,000. She attributed the growth to greater brand recognition due to Love Woolies manufacturing masks for the COVID-19 pandemic and donating many of them to first-responders across the country.

"Just getting into all these new places, like all back East — all of a sudden everyone knew who we were because we were donating thousands of masks to all the New York police departments or all these health care facilities," Hill said. "We started donating masks to schools and we made it so that all of the parents could go online to our website and pick out any mask that they wanted, so then that helped boost our visibility."

Hill said Love Woolies has helped Utah mothers to be able to work from home using sewing accessories, and she said the extra interest in Sanders' mittens only served to improve the bottom line for everyone.

"To have this little bit of a boost — it secures jobs and it secures our incomes and that's fantastic," Hill said. "I just am overjoyed and really grateful."

Photos

Andrew Adams

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