Protestors, pop-up merchandise stands prepare for Trump visit

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ASHLAND — From protestors to pop-up merchandise vendors, Boone County is preparing for President Donald Trump's visit.

The president is stumping for Senate candidate Josh Hawley.

Merchandise stands have popped up in the Columbia-Ashland area in time for the rally Thursday. The stands sell President Trump memorabilia ranging from hats and hoodies to bumper stickers and buttons. Mother-son duo Teri Bruner and Donavan Wattunen have been following Trump rallies throughout the country selling their merchandise.

Bruner sells the merchandise not as a way to promote President Trump, but as a way to get out of the house.

“I’m going to have some fun, so I’m having some fun,” Bruner said. “I got to see the Mississippi River for the first time just recently.”

Wattunen, a Trump follower long before 2016, has been doing this for over a year now. 

"A lot of people are scared sometimes to wear a 2020 hat," Wattunen said. "I want to eliminate that fear by having stuff out for sale." 

Kory Davis is the chair of the executive committee of Our Revolution Mid-Missouri, which is organizing a protest on Thursday at the Boone County Courthouse during President Trump's rally. 

"We chose to have a rally in order to take the focus off of Trump and the reaction he is trying to incite," Davis said. 

Wattunen is less concerned with backlash for what the he and his mom are doing. Neither are particularly worried about problems with protestors.

“The support doesn’t bother me, but the against…this is a job, don’t take it out on me that you’re not happy,” Bruner said. “This is my job.”

However, Davis says that all the people coming into town can make some people feel uneasy.

 “I do feel a bit uncomfortable with a lot of the people coming to town for his rally," Davis said. "As a person who identifies as trans, that definitely makes me feel a lot less safe than I did a few days ago."