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Make money selling T-shirts and more at protests

Jasmine Birtles 29th Jun 2021 2 Comments

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The enormous Freedom March that happened on 26th June in central London was attended by an estimated 1.7 million people. That’s hundreds of thousands of people in London for the day, marching together and open to buying products like t-shirts with freedom slogans and symbols, bottles of water, whistles and other noise-making products, coloured smoke flares and more.

If you’re willing to take up a position on a pavement somewhere central like Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus or Parliament Square, you could make some money selling products to marchers with money to burn!


Commercial opportunities at protest marches

Any time you have a large number of people away from home for a few hours or a whole day, you will find opportunities to make money.

With the enormous Freedom Marches that have been going on at least once a month in London and a few other cities around the country this year, there are a number of opportunities to make money selling things people need as they march for a few hours.

How to prepare

There are few things you need to do before the events to make money:

  • Keep abreast of news of upcoming marches by joining the relevant Telegram groups, Twitter feeds or Facebook groups. For example, there are Telegram groups for the Freedom Marches that give the time and place for the start of the events. Extinction Rebellion also has a Telegram group that you can follow and find out their movements.
  • If the march organisers send out a map of the route then pick a spot where you think the majority of people will pass slowly and make sure you are positioned there at the start of the march.
  • For some items like whistles, flares and t-shirts it can be best to stand where people gather to start the march. For bottles of water you will probably do a better trade half-way along the march.
  • Sometimes protest organisers don’t broadcast the route of the march beforehand so you will either have to take a guess at the most likely spots that it will go past (usually monuments and Government buildings) or, better still, just position yourself at the start of the march and then move to another spot once everyone has left if you still have merchandise to sell.

payment methods

Many people will have cash on them, particularly at something like the Freedom March, however many people will only have a card or, more likely, their phone with which to pay.

So to take payments you will need to

  • Have some spare change (a lot of £1 and £2 coins plus some five and ten-pound notes)
  • Have some device that allows you to take card and phone payments such as:
    • squareup – this costs £16 per month. It accepts chip and PIN cards, contactless cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay anywhere with a wireless connection. It has one flat rate commission of 1.75% per transaction. It’s a free app that you download onto your phone.
    • sumup -. This charges £19 for 500 transactions plus a flat rate commission of 1.69% per transaction.. It’s a free app that connects via bluetooth.

Given the prices above it’s worth offering a discount for cash.


Make money selling t-shirts with slogans on

Making and selling T-shirts can be really lucrative if you get it right.

However, it can take a bit of time and financial outlay beforehand.

create the t-shirts

  1. Firstly you need to come up with a slogan and/or symbol that will be popular with marchers. For example, at the Freedom March on 26th June, one seller had large, blue T-shirts on sale with ‘FREEDOM ‘ and a symbol on the front and ‘FREEEEEEDOOOM’ on the back in large letters. He was selling them for £10 each and doing a roaring trade.
  2. Create the design on Canva or simply using the in-built design function on your computer, if it has one.
  3. Decide on the colour of the T-shirts. It’s usually cheapest to pick one colour (white, blue, black are generally the most popular) or go for two basic colours.
  4. Decide on the size or sizes that you will go for. If this is the first time you’ve done it it’s probably best to go for one size – a big one! – that can fit anyone. Later, if you know what sells you will be able to risk two or three different sizes.
  5. Get the T-shirts printed by a cheap printer that will deliver. There are several T-shirt printing companies to use and it’s worth shopping around and haggling down the price as there’s a lot of competition in the field. For example, you could try one of the following:
    • Vistaprint – Which has different styles for different events eg basic t shirts for giveaways. Prices are £3.37 – £8.99 a shirt with nine colour options. They are able to add a design on the front and back.

    • Spreadshirt –  They have up to 70% off with six or more items, Basic T-Shirt for giveaways. Prices range from £4.41 – £8.99  per unit. They have twelve available colours and can print a design on front & back.

  6. It’s worth getting 50 printed if you’re planning on selling these at more than one march. As you know there will be many Freedom, BLM and Extinction Rebellion marches coming up this year and next, you can always aim to sell what’s left over at later marches.

Freedom march t-shirts

sell the t-shirts

For T-shirts you could sell then at the start of the march or at a halfway point where you’re pretty sure people will be passing.

At the Freedom March on June 26th, the man mentioned above stood by Trafalgar square with his T-shirts on the ground selling them quite briskly.

Make sure you wear the T-shirt yourself so that you advertise it to passers-by. Have a sign next to you with the price. Consider offering a discount for bulk-buys.

Have a good amount of change with you (£1 and £2 coins plus some notes) as well as a device for taking payment via cards or phones.


Make money selling whistles and other noise-makers

Whistles are wonderfully effective and can be very cheap to buy in bulk.

Buy boxes of cheap whistles at your nearest wholesaler, pound shop or even street market.

You can also bulk-buy whistles of different sizes and shapes online at various websites including Newitts where you can get Ziland 100 high Pitched Football Whistles for just £10 or 400 for £30. Sell them at a £1 a go and you’ve made a really decent profit!

Just make sure that if you buy these online that the items will be delivered at least a few days before the march so that you have them in time.

how to sell them

Stand near the start of the march and also walk through the crowds as they wait to start the march shouting the price of your whistles.

Sell them for a round figure – £1-£5 each, or whatever the market will bear – and offer discounts for multiple buys.


Make money selling bottles of water

This is a nice easy way to make money from protest marches, although it does rather depend on the weather,

what you will need

  • A good supply of small bottles of water
  • A large bucket
  • Bags of ice
  • Some form of transport

how to do it

The first step is to source the cheapest bottles of water you can find.

If you’re a member of Costco or another wholesaler then that will probably be your best bet. Load up the car with as many boxes of water bottles as you can comfortably transport to the protest.

For example, right now you can get 1120 500ml (small) bottles of water for £169.99 (that’s 16p per bottle) which you could then sell for at least £1 a bottle at the event.

If you’re not a member of a wholesaler then try the cheaper supermarkets like Asda, Aldi, Lidl or Morrisons and see which charges the least – you could even get them delivered by your favourite supermarket to cut down on the petrol and effort.

selling them on the day

  1. Take a large bucket and bags of ice cubes to the protest area.
  2. Set yourself up somewhere that you know crowds will be passing (check the route beforehand if you’re able to) or, to be on the safe side, right at the start of the march. Create a sign that advertises the price per bottle – make it a round number like £1 or £2 depending on how much the bottles cost you and how much you think people will pay.
  3. Stay until you have sold the lot.


Make money selling smoke flares and other colourful items

freedom march smoke flares

Smoke flares are particularly popular with Freedom Marches which are rather like a carnival affair with lots of colour, noise and dancing.

Flags, beach balls, tennis balls (really!) and anything fun and colourful to wave or throw are also popular.

smoke flares

Smoke flares really create atmosphere and are often set off at the start of a march.

They can be quite pricey but Manchester Fireworks sells small, hand-held ones for £2.50 for a pack of two.

Sell these separately for at least £5 each at the start of the march or halfway along the route.


Small and large flags are popular at marches. Consider offering one or two of the following:

  • Union jacks of all sizes
  • England flags
  • Welsh flags
  • Scottish flags
  • Cornish flags
  • EU flags
  • Rainbow flags

Large flags can be bought online and, sometimes, at pound shops. Try to sell these on a patch of grass or sand where you can poke the sticks into the ground so that marchers can see then from a distance.

Buy large flags from various outlets including

  • The Flag Shop – 8ft x 5ft flags cost £17.95 each or £15.45 for bulk orders with free UK delivery
  • NW Flags – 8ft x 5ft flags cost £19.99 with free UK delivery

beach balls and more

As with the items above, it’s a good idea to try your local Costco, street market and pound shop. You can also order custom magnets, flyers, stickers, and other colourful memorabilia for people to take home too. If you buy a lot of products at your local pound shop or street market it’s worth negotiating with the manager or owner. Usually buying in bulk gives you a lot of clout when it comes to haggling the price down. See our article here on how to haggle on the high street for a few tips there.

Also, of course, there is a lot on offer online. Obviously eBay has cheap deals, often with discounts for bulk buys. However, be careful where you buy from. The really cheap stuff is often from China or another Asian country and the delivery time can be far too long. Check the estimated delivery time and make sure it is well ahead of the march date.


Disclaimer: MoneyMagpie is not a licensed financial advisor and therefore information found here including opinions, commentary, suggestions or strategies are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only. This should not be considered as financial advice. Anyone thinking of investing should conduct their own due diligence.

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2 years ago

During the march there were fun beachballs being tossed around in sheer joy. It was like a mash up of a freedom march and block party. Such joy! I’ve been to all these marches since February, but June’s was hands down the best and biggest. Other ideas to sell are umbrellas, especially those that are white. If you sell magic markers people can write their own slogans on the umbrella and use them as a sun shield. And for people in London who have parking facilities, maybe they can rent out their spots for the day as many people carpool… Read more »

2 years ago

Interesting article, especially with all the anti lockdown protests going on right now.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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