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Tea Party Protests Create Online Sales Boom

A Tea Party T-shirt offered for sale at CafePress, part of a boom in anti-tax products being sold online ahead of nationwide protests scheduled for April 15. (CafePress)

Move over, coffee: It's teatime in America. Just be sure you're sipping your Earl Gray from an official Tea Party mug when April 15 rolls around.

Grassroots organizations have produced a cottage industry of Tea Party-themed products that are funding nationwide protests of government spending and bailouts -- and they're generating a mini-stimulus to boot.

Click here to see some of the products.

Online retailers are recording hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales of mugs and sweats, buttons and bumper stickers, with much of the proceeds going toward organizing the tax-day tea parties, takeoffs on the original 1773 protest of British taxes.

Some protesters, in addition to trying to sway opinion, also seem interested in moving products -- though they're not likely to end up in Boston Harbor any time soon.

Custom online retailer Zazzle said tea party products have been flying off its presses at an "obscene" rate, propelling them into the top sphere of items it sells online.

"We like to think of ourselves as a cultural barometer for the country," said Jason Kang, vice president of marketing for Zazzle. "This is probably one of the bigger things -- not counting the election -- that we've seen since the Spitzer 'Client 9'" sex scandal broke in 2008.

"Pro-Obama merchandise had been popular all of last year. In the last couple of months we've seen anti-Obama products begin to increase in popularity and sales numbers," Kang told FOXNews.com.

Eric Odom, who administers the Tax Day Tea Party Web site and is helping organize and fund multiple events, said they were "ecstatic" with the results they're seeing at their online store, which has recorded $48,000 in sales.

"We try to fuel that money right back into costs involved in the Tea Party effort," Odom said, which includes renting and reserving space, making signs and covering transportation costs.

Odom said the online boom has kept his organization from having to seek large donations to pay its way. "It's made it so we haven't had to go out and ask for money," he told FOXNews.com.

A spokesman for leading online marketer CafePress.com said the burst in sales "sort of came out of the blue" and the more than 100,000 tea party items more than caught their eye, though he guessed the trend would die down in a few weeks when the protests are over.

"We didn't see it coming and then all of a sudden we seemed to have quite a few Tea Party-themed items," said Marc Cowlin, senior manager of public relations for CafePress. "The fact that it snuck up there means it's something to watch."

Other independent retailers are reporting similar explosions in sales.

"I'm not really positive what we've made this week -- we've been so busy packing things away," said Jay Taylor, COO of Patriot Depot, which sells conservative books and gear online.

Taylor, who said tea party stickers and shirts are powering his "recession-proof" business, isn't giving all his proceeds away. "We are making a little money but we're definitely more concerned with getting the message out," he told FOXNews.com.

Yet some organizers are seeing costs outweigh their profits -- and are choosing to operate at a loss.

Taylor is partnering with the Augusta, Ga.-based Reagan.org to send tens of thousands of tea bags north to Washington for a massive tax day tea dump. Though Reagan.org is asking for about $1 per bag, they estimate they'll end up losing money in the transaction.

"What we figure is that we'll probably end up losing a little bit of money on it," said Joshua Bolin, executive director of Reagan.org, who told FOXNews.com that his organization accepted requests to send 30,000 tea bags packing in just the first two days of its promotion.

Sink or swim, profit or plunge, online purveyors have been taken aback by the success of their small business ventures.

"It's kind of been a little bit surprising how much enthusiasm there is out there," said Chad Peace, a co-founder of ReTeaParty.com, which is planning follow-up events for July 4 and has already seen over $10,000 in sales.

"I think the movement as a whole has tapped into something. People are starting to get frustrated about where to turn and what to do," he said. "Neither party is really providing a platform ... and people are just fed up."