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Apr 1, 2009
by Judi Perkins
The Fact Packs are already extremely profitable, and are repeat order items for museum stores, zoos, aquariums and both state and national parks. Many order private label Fact Packs, and Peabody's will also design custom orders.
Janice DiMichele, President of Peabody's, said they began with a core group of cards they thought were "pretty generic and would sell around the country." Then the Smithsonian asked if they would create a Fact Pack for snakes and birds of prey. "That was followed by an aviation series, which includes the Mongolifer balloon, the DC3, and the space shuttle."
Fact Packs are collector card kits for children that contain one each of six different cards, six colored pencils, 36 interesting fun facts, six blue ribbon stickers, one pencil sharpener and one plastic travel case. "The child can color the picture, learn the facts on the back, and then earn a blue ribbon sticker," said DiMichele. Where does the fun facts information come from? "We find somebody who is an expert in that area to critique what we are doing," said DiMichele. "For instance, butterflies are our biggest seller, so ten years ago we tracked down Alan Ludkee, a nationally known expert on butterflies. We sent him some designs and preliminary questions, and he gave us suggestions on the best generic choices for the U.S."
For the custom Fact Packs, the expert is usually connected with the customer. For instance, The Jefferson Museum in St. Louis, MO not only private labels many of Peabody's Fact Packs, but has also commissioned custom Fact Packs. "They critique the artwork and the questions, so we try to find somebody there who will be very kind and help us with the project," DiMichele said. New subjects are added regularly, and DiMichele said their next one is Pond Pals. They are also considering a prototype on baseball for a company with the concession contracts at nine major league ball parks. "They do not want it tied to the licensing of major league baseball, but rather the history of baseball, baseball equipment, the ballparks; topics like that," she said.
Although Peabody's began in 1987, they went online only a few years ago. Their current site is really more for show than it is any kind of sales tool. While it is informational and shows the products, it has no shopping cart, and the pictures of the cards are small. This has prevented unauthorized downloads. Until recently, buyers, if they have found it, have telephoned for a catalog. But DiMichele said that is changing this spring, as they are planning to redo the site. "The catalog has pictures of the different artwork, and we would like that on the website so that you can see both sides of each card in each Fact Pack. We will need a copyright or some watermark across the cards, so that they are not simply printed out for use."
Peabody's also carries Kard Kits Greeting Card Kits, the product that originally launched the company; Post-ables Stationary Kits additionaly all three lines are available in an ASPCA theme. Kard Kits were created for kids to color greeting cards relative to the season or theme, but when DiMichele ran a few ads in women's magazines, it was stores that called to order them, not consumers.
When she approached Sea World about designing a line of cards for them, her children decided they did not want to give away their colored Shamu card. They wanted to keep it. Hence the Fact Pack idea, which quickly became their biggest selling line.
Although the Kard Kits are not big sellers for museums and parks, they are ideal for hospital and other types of gift shops, card shops, candy shops and drug stores. DiMichele said several restaurants with gift shops have ordered them. Kard Kits come in eight categories, and each kit contains the same items as the Fact Packs, but the stickers are coordinated with the theme of the kit. Explained DiMichele, "With the birthday cards, you can get six clown stickers or six balloon stickers. Santa Claus cards have a Santa sticker, and the Hannukah cards have a dreidel. The kids can either decorate the card or put one on the envelope."
Post-ables are colorable postcards, each of which opens up to lined paper, and then becomes a self mailer. Post-ables come with mailbox stickers. "Most of these are custom products, although we have a few generic ones," said DiMichele. Clients have included Sea World and Big Boy Restaurants. "We did Yogi Bear with Jellystone Park, but we only sell those to the parks." Minimum order varies. "We do not have one for the generic kits," DiMichele said, "but we do for the private label and custom ones. On those, there is no set up charge. We set a higher quantity so they have product to sell instead." Recommended retail price is $5.95, although she said many places charge $6.95.
Peabody's receives a lot of custom orders, but DiMichele does not always hurry to write them. "I want to make sure they understand that 2,500 kits is a lot for some smaller places." She recommends carrying some of the stock products first to get a feel for how the product does in the store. "Smoky Mountain National Park carried our stock products for a year, got a good feel for them, then committed to a custom one, yet they still sell our stock products as well."
Another line is called 7th Card, which takes a standard kit and adds value to it. Peabody's recently did one for the U.S. Mint to celebrate Lincoln's birthday, and the four new pennies, by adding a 7th card to the standard Lincoln pack. "The card goes in the front of the kit, and there's a sticker on the front of the kit that says bonus card included. We just shipped them to their stores in Philadelphia and Denver."
Peabody's also carries stock designs for 7th cards, such as a panda, since not every zoo has a panda. Seventh cards are 10 cents extra per kit. "In those instances, we will sell them our standard zoo animal kit, but we will put the panda card in there," said DiMichele. Artwork for all cards is done by freelance artists. The printing is done locally, and the larger orders are assembled by workshops and shelters.
MINIMUM ORDER: Generic kits: None. Price is $2.95 per kit. For orders of more than 50 kits, price is $2.75 per kit. Private Label: Minimum order is 1,000 kits. Custom orders have a minimum of 2,500 kits. Seventh cards are 10 cents extra per kit.
For more information:
Peabody's Toys That Teach, Inc.
PO Box 383
Novelty, OH 44072
Toll Free: 800-688-1314
Topic: Company Profiles
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