Art Shops Find Elections Good for Business

To the 39 political parties campaigning for this month’s polls, a party signboard means an opportunity to attract supporters and voters.

For Sao Phaetra, it means $35.

Sao Phaetra and other art shop owners and T-shirt printers are discovering that the July polls have brought a windfall to their businesses, which have dropped off since the factional fighting a year ago.

“I think the longer the campaign goes on the better it is for me,” artist Sao Phaetra said Wed­nesday, adding that his Sreing Fine Art business began to pick up in early June.

Sao Phaetra said the rush of business will save his shop, which has survived since opening in 1993 only by plodding along. He said he used to make one or two sales a day, usually of paintings or business signs.

But with campaigning under way, 35-year-old Sao Phaetra has found himself inundated with orders to paint party logos. Small parties are buying 10 to 20 signs

a day, he said, while the Sam Rainsy Party has ordered its blue and white logo painted on hundreds of signboards that cost up to $35 each.

To keep up with the demand, the shop has employed five students in addition to the five already working at the shop from the nearby Faculty of Fine Arts.

Other art shops in the neighborhood of the school have found themselves similarly swamped with orders, employees said. Tim Thoeun, who has worked at Sing­ha Meas Fine Art shop for nearly five years, said he cannot remember when the store was this busy. He estimated he will make $4,000 during the three most active weeks of the campaign.

T-shirt silk screen printers are also benefiting from the campaign. At Vimean Akareach shop near the Independence Monu­ment, proprietor Lap Phaly has received orders since April.

While Sam Rainsy is slapping up signs around the country at a rate outpacing his competitors, the CPP is outfitting more supporters in CPP gear, with at least 100,000 ordered from her shop, she said.

And at $1 a shirt, the campaign has turned into a windfall.

“I agree to work for every political party: CPP, Funcinpec, Reastr Niyum, Sam Rainsy Party, or small parties,” she said. “The election is good for Cambodia and good for business.”


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