When I call through to Sean Middleton, Director of Sales at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, he’s in the middle of another merchandise order.
“It’s crazy, we’ve completely sold out of our Lawn & Order jumpers and Make America Rake Again shirts,” laughs Sean on the phone from Philadelphia.
It’s been one week since President Trump’s team held a bizarre press conference in the carpark of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping, thrusting the small family-owned business into the global spotlight.
Last Saturday, with the election slipping out of Trump’s grasp, his team rushed to organise a press conference in Philadelphia. Word spread that it would take place at the Four Seasons, a natural fit for the hotel-loving President. Trump himself went on to confirm the location in a since-deleted tweet.
But as is so often the case what Trump presented to the public was a twisted version of the truth. Instead of booking the Four Seasons hotel, his team had secured something more humble: Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a gardening business in Northeast Philadelphia.
To clarify, President Trump’s press conference will NOT be held at Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia.
It will be held at Four Seasons Total Landscaping— no relation with the hotel.
— Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center (@FSPhiladelphia) November 7, 2020
On the surface, the ‘Wait, Which Four Seasons?’ mix up is comedy gold, and understandably the internet exploded with glee.
I could write jokes for 800 years and I'd never think of something funnier than Trump booking the Four Seasons for his big presser, and it turning out to be the Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot between a dildo store and a crematorium. pic.twitter.com/P45HV1daD9
— Zack Bornstein (@ZackBornstein) November 8, 2020
But according to Sean, the name was nothing more than a coincidence and the real reason Four Seasons Total Landscaping got the nod came down to location, location, location.
“As I understand, the Trump team Philadelphia’s headquarters is a couple of neighbourhoods up I-95, and they were surveying parking lots along the I-95 corridor to hold the press conference,” he explains.
“We’re accessible from the main road you can get in and out of there quickly, and it was a real circus, so I figure our location was attractive because of the parking lot.”
“I got a call from Trump’s people on my cell phone at 8:45 am, and they asked me if they could visit our parking lot here to see if it might work for a press conference,” recalls Sean.
“I met with Trump team members at 9:30 am, and within ten minutes, they confirmed with me that Four Seasons Total Landscaping was the perfect location.”
Aware that the eyes of the world would be watching Sean and his team got to work.
“I was running all over the yard picking up rubbish and hiding old garbage bins and stuff,” explains Sean.
By the time President Trump tweeted the correct location, the buzz inside Four Seasons Total Landscaping was palpable.
Big press conference today in Philadelphia at Four Seasons Total Landscaping — 11:30am!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2020
“We thought it would be a cool experience for us, but we didn’t think it would become a part of internet history or such a spectacle,” says Sean.
Shortly before 11 am, Trump’s lawyer-turned-fixer-turned-Borat-star Rudy Giuliani arrived.
“Rudy set up a war room in our front office, and he was going over his talking points,” says Sean.
“He was grateful to us for letting them use the Four Seasons Total Landscaping, and we took a few photos together.”
Soon after that, Giuliani shuffled into the dusty car park and fronted the media, telling the world that Trump was not going to concede, that he had indeed won the election. It was a different version of the same delusion Trump had been sharing on Twitter but really, the words didn’t matter. The moment belonged to Four Seasons Total Landscaping.
Giuliani delivered his speech while standing sandwiched between two depressing buildings. On the left, a sex shop aptly named Fantasy Island, and on the right, a crematorium.
Some say the world will end in fire/
Others say at Four Seasons Total Landscaping north of the Tacony-Palmyra bridge, near the porn shop
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 8, 2020
“I don’t want to take a stance on the press conference, I’d rather leave my politics out of it, but it was certainly bizarre to see the Trump-Pence banner hanging up in our parking lot,” laughs Sean.
“After the press conference, Rudy was a bit more relaxed and talkative; he seemed relieved it was over.”
It may have been over for Rudy, but the fun was just beginning for the Four Seasons Total Landscaping team. Almost immediately, they discovered that fifteen minutes of fame could be a double-edged sword.
“We started getting crazy death threats on voicemails, outrage from people because we were working with the Trump team and we hadn’t considered that part of it,” admits Sean.
“It was never our intention to be aligned with a particular party; we would’ve hosted either candidate. We’re a small business who accidentally got involved in something big.”
“Our view is that no matter what side of politics you’re on, this is funny, let’s laugh at it. Now we’re trying to make lemonade out of lemons.”
There’s no such thing as bad publicity may sound like a Trump-ism, but in this case, it might be right. Over the past week, Four Seasons Total Landscaping has seen an influx of new business.
“We’re booked out for months in advance,” says Sean. “I went out on a job yesterday for a brand new client and the first thing he said to me was, ‘You know why we reached out to you right?’”
And that’s not all, in a classic case of only in America, Four Seasons Total Landscaping is now in talks for their own television show.
“A few days ago Netflix contacted us, so we’re meeting with producers this week,” explains Sean. “What a wild ride!”
Our phone call comes to an end because Sean must return to the task at hand, replenishing his stock of Make America Rake Again merchandise.
But as he says goodbye, Sean can do what Trump cannot; concede that the good times won’t last forever.
“We won’t be able to sell merchandise for long, people will forget, and ultimately we’re a landscaping company,” says Sean.
“I’m just glad we could provide a little bit of humour at a time when our country certainly needs it.”