NEW YORK -- The day after Osama bin Laden was killed, street vendors and online merchants rushed to place special orders for T-shirts celebrating the demise of the world's most-wanted terrorist. But after an initial spike in orders, the appetite for bin Laden memorabilia already is fading.
Only one street vendor in Times Square was hawking the shirts on Tuesday, nine days after bin Laden's death. Others said they couldn't get them from wholesalers or thought the merchandise was either in poor taste or fading in relevance.
"I think the party's over as far as bin Laden is concerned," said vendor Steve Kalos, 62, who was selling sunglasses, pashminas and caps.
Two blocks south, 58-year-old Duane Jackson, one of the vendors who alerted police to an attempted car bombing in Times Square a year ago, had sold six dozen shirts that read "Obama Got Osama -- God Bless America!"
When Jackson began selling the $10 T-shirts last week, "they were jumping off the table," he said. European tourists snapped them up, and President Barack Obama's stop at a firehouse around the corner also boosted business, he said.
But his colleague, Walter "Candyman" Wells, 60, refused to order bin Laden shirts because he didn't want to capitalize on the terrorist's death.
"I don't want to see anybody benefiting from anybody getting killed," he said. "It didn't make sense, everybody jumping and cheering. Whoever's selling them, that's on them. I just can't do it."
Numerous online merchants scrambled to design original shirts after the announcement.
"The first two days were astronomical," said C.J. Grouse, president of RK T-Shirts in Cornelius, N.C.
Sales doubled as the company posted 15 designs and bought up keywords to increase its standing in Web searches. They sold about 4,000 of the shirts, the most popular bearing an image of Uncle Sam and proclaiming "We Got You, Osama Bin Laden." It costs $15.99.
Demand has decreased but is still stronger than average, Grouse said. Bin Laden may surpass Charlie Sheen, he said.
At Ranger Up, a Durham, N.C., military apparel company, the top seller was a solemn black shirt bearing the date of bin Laden's death and two vertical lines evoking the twin towers, for $19.99. A quote from President George W. Bush at ground zero was emblazoned on the back: "We Will Not Fail."
After bin Laden's death, sales at the company were double what they were on Black Friday, traditionally the year's busiest shopping day.