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Nov 1, 2007
by Christopher Heine
Merchandisers can find the best gift and impulse buy products in the novelties and souvenirs niche at http://www.wholesalecentral.com/Novelties.html. There, they can discover top shelf wholesalers like SmartBlonde.net, SmilesWholesale.com, Prizes!, NJ Croce Company, Galaxy Distributors, Hayes Specialties Corp. and Hot Properties Merchandising. If what the experts are predicting becomes true, the next two months could see a record breaking period for online holiday sales.
"It is a marketplace that continues to take off," said Debra Carroll, President, SmartBlonde.net, Arlington, WA. "The great thing is that companies like ours offer the retailer a chance to get prices without the middle man." Carroll's firm carries an attractive array of licensed sports metal products (generally running $2.45 per wholesale unit and up), including circular signs, light switch covers and license plates. She said that sales for license plates have been increasing for mom and pop gift shops, mall kiosks, convenience stores, carwashes and other types of retailers.
She carries the plates for every major professional franchise in baseball, football, basketball and hockey, while also covering the big NCAA team brands. The popularity of the plates may depend on your state laws. "There are 15 states where you need plates on the front and back side of your car," Carroll explained. "Our customers in those geographical regions are making a mint. But, the plates are truly hot all over the country because fans are loyal to their teams."
At the same time, sports related products are not the only big selling items at www.smartblonde.net. The firm has over a dozen novelty categories available at the site, involving everything from automotive to patriotic to Spanish to faith based items.
"Many of our brands do extremely well; for instance, there is John Deere and Harley," Carroll said. "Four hundred of our 1,600 products are exclusive designs that cannot be found anywhere else. But they are all great for stocking your store this time of year. They sell through the holidays and afterwards. We sell to all kinds of retailers."
Betty Boop & The King
The great thing about novelties and souvenirs is that there are a few proven winners that sell in every kind of store, whether they are gift shops, apparel boutiques, sports stores, dime stores, carwashes or convenience stores. Often, these best sellers feature a character from 1950s or 1960s American culture. "Our Elvis and Betty Boop products outsell everything," said Tim Alexander, Director of Internet Marketing, SmilesWholesale.com, Murfreesboro, TN. "For Betty Boop, we have a Biker Fleece Throw, a Collectible Watch Set, a Large Tote Bag and a Lady Luck Betty Boop Collectible License Plate. We have many of the same items for Elvis, along with tin signs that have been selling really well." SmilesWholesale.com offers football oriented items, such as lamps, clocks, license plates and fleece throws, for the top 66 NCAA teams and all 32 NFL teams. These products are available at www.smileswholesale.com, where retailers and merchandise buyers from around the globe visit for both trusty sellers and unique items.
It is worth noting that Alexander takes time every day to update the website's New Arrivals section, which is located on the left hand side directory on the homepage. Inside the section, viewers can click on any day to see exactly when certain products arrived in the firm's warehouse. While offering 10 percent off orders of $500 and up, the company sells to small mom and pop shops, flea markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores, airport gift shops, sports fan shops and consumer show marketers. Since the firm also has two stores of its own, Alexander said that they know how to treat their retail clients with the right touch.
"We do not sell anything to our partners that we would not sell out of our retail stores," he added. "We get in new products continually. We have some holiday themed sweatshirts that we expect to sell through the end of the year. They sell for $6 per unit. They are a 7.8 ounce sweatshirt, which has equal or better quality when compared to a heavier version."
Footballs Score Points with Kids
The marketplace for sports products continues to expand, as nearly every kind of retailer imaginable is getting into the act. To meet this huge demand, the number of styles of wholesale products for football, baseball, basketball and hockey teams (as well as professional golfers) continues to grow.
The Huntington Beach, CA, based company, Prizes!, offers 6 inch and 8.5 inch plush football toys for over 100 college football teams and every NFL squad. The football has a soft vinyl exterior and a polyester fiber interior.
"They are like a stuffed toy," said Tom Portale, General Manager, Prizes!. "The 6 inch football is $2.45 each, and the 8.5 inch is $4.95 per unit. Kids have a great time throwing them around, and another selling point is that the footballs are safe to play with. The fantastic thing for retailers is that they sell year round."
Additionally, Portale's firm offers the Cheerleader Bear ($5.25 per unit) and The Face Paintin' Fanatic ($3.75 each). Each of these items is only available for college teams. "Football is the most popular sport in America, so if you do an effective job of displaying quality products, those licensed items will sell," he explained. "We also have baseball products that start moving when Major League Baseball season starts with spring training in late February." Another exemplary model of tapping the sports products explosion is Galaxy Distributors. In the licensed sports category at www.wholesalecentral.com/galaxy, you can find products such as stylish fuzzy team slippers ($96 per dozen) that are adorned with emblems of clubs like the New York Islanders, or an increasingly popular item like the Snow Globe ($20 per dozen) that uses the logo of MLB's World Series champion. Last year's version with the St. Louis Cardinals emblem was a huge hit.
The Snow Globe uses the traditional look and feel of a shakeup snow globe/dome (normally found with a picturesque scene inside the globe) and applies it to baseball. The 5" x 5" x 5" tabletop item includes a baseball glove holding the globe, which offers a glimpse of the team's stadium.
"It was one of our hottest items of the last holiday season, we completely ran out," said Lou Monachello, President, Galaxy Distributors, Holbrook, NY. "It was an item we think no one else had. We did all of the most popular teams like the Cardinals, New York Yankees and Mets, Chicago White Sox and Cubs, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. It should be one of our big product lines heading into this holiday season."
Gumby Loves NY
Meanwhile, for 22 years, NJ Croce has been the only company with dual licenses for Betty Boop and "I [heart symbol] New York" apparel, which can be found at www.njcroce.com for $8 to $9 per wholesale unit. For those two lines, the firm offers tee shirts in regular sizes, as well as baby doll tees and spaghetti straps for girls and women. Because Betty Boop and New York have a national appeal, the company sells to mom and pops across the country, and airport gift shops along the East Coast, in particular.
But the executives at NJ Croce Company understand that in order to stay on top, they need to continue developing innovative, new products. That is why the firm will soon be premiering its "Gumby Loves NY" line, which will feature bendables and tee shirts. Pricing for the bendables is pending, but the tee shirts will wholesale from $8.50 to $9.
"Everybody loves Gumby and everyone loves New York, so they are a perfect match," said Nick Croce, President, NJ Croce, La Verne, CA. "It is being heavily promoted via the DVDs you see in Best Buy and Wal-Mart. So, it is going to be a significant seller."
Croce's firm also carries a wide range of apparel (as well as items like key chains, mugs and bumper stickers) for the cultural phenomena of Popeye, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Mr. Bill, Pink Panther, Felix The Cat and Speed Racer. For Popeye and Felix, the firm has recently seen pirate oriented gear for the spinach loving cartoon sailor and the silent film cat fly off the warehouse shelves at an alarming rate.
"We totally understand what the tourist customer is looking for in souvenir gifts," said Mathew Parker, VP of Sales & Licensing for NJ Croce. "We've got the proper color palette, the right design and the best print size."
For more information, contact:
7326 W. Country Club Dr
Arlington, WA 98223
Toll Free: 866-425-6633
760 Jessica Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37130
Huntington Beach, CA 92649-1074
1691 B Church St.
Holbrook, NY 11741
Toll Free: 888-281-2789
NJ Croce Company
1330 Arrow Highway
La Verne, CA 91750
Hot Properties Merchandising, Inc.
P.O. Box 453005
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Hayes Specialties Corp.
Topic: Product Trends
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