Giftbliss Sales started up in 1993 as a manufacturers' rep group. Over the years, owner Michael Penna would stumble upon products that the company would then distribute as a side business, which eventually got them into the distribution business and other aspects of selling. Though they started with the gift industry, they have expanded to a broader market in recent years. The company didn't start selling its most successful product until 2000.
"We had heard that there were snowboard and ski parks in Japan that used an artificial form of snow," Penna recalls. "I got together with another individual, and we thought it would be an interesting product to sell to stores for decoration. That particular product was very industrial. When you touched it, it was very sticky, whereas our current product is very fluffy and soft. But it did look incredibly like snow. It was really a good visual product."
Giftbliss started selling the product for those initial purposes, but when consumers began seeing the snow as a decoration in stores and other venues, they wanted to know how they could get it for themselves. Penna recognized suddenly that there was a whole other market out there, so he started to package the product for retail sale. After some complaints about the consistency of the snow, around 2003 Penna began seeking out something better. He worked with a manufacturer to develop a more sellable snow, and eventually wound up with something far superior to the product he had previously sold. He then developed it into a new product called "Snow To Go." Although Giftbliss does represent a small number of manufacturers still, the primary business is now the distribution and manufacture of the snow.
"We also distribute a wonderful jewelry product, and have over the years, developed additional show products that make Snow To Go more interesting in a retail setting," says Penna. "For example, we work with one distributor who puts the snow into greeting cards. We thought we could make an even giftier packaging, and so our newest product package looks like a little takeout box. It makes a really fun gift."
The snow is also sold in a jar, as well as a poly pack, which are great for a variety of different kinds of home decorating. The jar makes about three gallons of snow, and the poly pack makes about a gallon. There is a Fairy's Frost product, which adds glitter to the snow, as well as Christmas tree ornaments with artificial snow inside. You can even add food coloring to the water before you mix it, so you can have orange snow for Halloween, red snow for Valentine's Day, or red, white and blue snow for the Fourth of July.
"From eight to 80, we just love watching the jaws drop as snow is created," says Penna. "We've established ourselves as a very retailer-friendly company. We don't sell anything retail unless it's to a large institutional buyer, or that kind of thing. But anyone who wants to buy snow for their personal use, we either direct them to a reseller in their zip code, or if we can't find one within a 20 mile radius, we will send them over to one of our Internet retailers." But whether an Internet provider or a brick and mortar store, retailers can send Giftbliss a video that shows how they present the snow in their store. Penna pledges to review and evaluate it, and if it's accepted, it gets posted on the Snow To Go website, www.InstantSnow.org, free of charge.
Penna recently put together a Facebook page for Snow To Go that he's very excited about. Every time Giftbliss ships snow to a retailer for the first time, it gets posted on the page. He's even thinking about doing something with Twitter, where he can log those shipments as well. It's another example of the company's retailer-friendly philosophy.
"We certainly have many gift stores that are retailers of ours," he says. "But we also have locations that are great souvenir stores. We do lots of business with ski resorts. I just spoke to a lady who owns a store in Big Bear Lake, and she goes through about 60 poly packs of snow every two weeks, selling it through the summer, not just during ski season. As much as we're growing, there are still people who have never seen the snow, never seen it made before, and if a retailer is willing to actually show the snow in their store, it creates a whole buzz. People will go in and not only buy the snow, but now you have new customers in your store who will then end up buying other things." Needless to say, Christmas stores make up one of the largest groups of retailers Giftbliss does business with. Penna also reports that florists, who originally were using Snow To Go for their own floral designs, now make up a large percentage of the retail buyers.
A second website, GiftblissSales.com, shows a broader variety of all the company's products, but InstantSnow.org is the primary site for Snow To Go.
Internet presence is very important to Penna. "We don't sell a lot of our products through the Internet, although we do some. What we try to do is really make it heavily informational. It is important to us, and we want to stay a step ahead. We find that it is the best way to put our best foot forward and hit the largest audience that we can. It brings in a lot of new customers. One of the things that we find is that once a customer has been established, they start communicating directly with us. It is really great to utilize the Internet to get new customers who may not have seen us at a trade show, or don't see one of our sales reps in their store. The more people that start shopping via the Internet, the greater the value of our presence on the Internet is going to be to our overall business."
For more information:
Gift Bliss Enterprises, LLC
Instant Snow To Go!
8305 Prundale North Rd., Box 11
Prunedale, CA 93907
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