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Final White House Photo Op for Gloves From Ohio Store

The green and white gardening gloves wouldn’t stand out on a rack for sale at a hardware store, but they’ve been showing up in White House photographs since 2011.

That’s because first lady Michelle Obama wears that little pair from Fred’s Pro Hardware in Toledo, Ohio, and has talked and written about them.

President Barack Obama shops for gloves in June 2011 at Fred’s Pro Hardware in Toledo, Ohio.

The gloves–a well-publicized gift from President Barack Obama–got another photo op this month when the first lady planted her famous White House kitchen garden for the final time.

Jeff Brown, owner of Fred’s Pro Hardware, isn’t quite sure why the president stopped at his particular store in June 2011 to buy the women’s gardening gloves. The president was promoting shopping at small businesses, and Brown can’t complain that his store is the one that got picked for the publicity, he says.

Maker Boss Gloves posted pictures on its website April 6, saying that Michelle Obama has made a tradition of wearing its brand and particularly liked that pair from 2011, which “quickly became her garden glove of choice.”

The gloves were the first pair Fred’s Pro sold from a new line it had begun carrying in 2011. They aren’t fancy, and the 150 pairs that sold that year didn’t do much to boost store sales.

“They’re kind of inexpensive gloves that anybody might buy for yard work or gardening,” Brown says.

However, the presidential visit was good publicity and the staff calls that type of glove “first lady gloves,” he says.

“People still come in and say, ‘This is where the president shopped,'” Brown says. “It was something good that happened to our store.”

President Barack Obama poses for a photo with Fred’s Pro Hardware staff and customers in 2011.

Brown’s staff didn’t get much warning that the president was coming. Secret Service agents came in the store and let them know about 20 minutes prior to the president’s arrival.

Then in walked the president, who picked up the gloves and paid for them with cash at the register. Obama chatted with local people, smiled for some photos and then left in his limousine.

Brown was out of town that day, but an employee gave him a phone call.

“One of my guys called me and said, ‘You’ll never guess who came in the store!'” Brown says. “He said, ‘The president,’ and I said, ‘The president of what?’”

About Kate Klein

Kate is profiles editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and industry events and writes about retailers' unique contributions to the independent home improvement sector. She graduated from Cedarville University in her home state of Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and minored in creative writing. She loves being an aunt, teaching writing to kids, running, reading, farm living and, as Walt Whitman says, traveling the open road, “healthy, free, the world before me.”

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