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Robert Greenspan: Wholesale Legend

Jun 1, 2012

Robert E. Greenspan is one of the great American wholesale success stories of the last 40 years. To put the depth of Greenspan's journey into perspective, he has seen global manufacturing go through all of its Asian shifts, from Japan to Korea to Taiwan, to Hong Kong and finally, to China. So when Greenspan gets genuinely excited about new products, retailers should take note.

In a recent interview, the wholesale legend and president of R.E. Greenspan Co., Inc. talked about plush animals with action and sound for disabled children. They distribute to customers that adapt them for children with special needs. One such customer, Enabling Devices, has been buying and adapting his action toys continuously for more than 25 years. "The interactive nature of the fun items," Greenspan says, "make them so easy for the kids to use." Interactive toys are in. "We have a singing and dancing tree," he adds, "and an interactive reindeer and interactive snowman. They blow up and shrink back down again, and I have so many items like dogs that interact with the trees. It's all fun stuff."

Greenspan uses his website, to offer these great toy items and many others. One of his constant sellers has been Charley Chimp, a battery operated cymbal-banging monkey that people of all ages love. In Hollywood's "Toy Story 3" movie, Charley is the security guard in the daycare center scenes. The toy mostly clangs his cymbals together. If the user taps Charley's cap, he screams like a monkey, shows his teeth, and pops open his eyes. A carton of eight costs $140, or $17.50 per unit. Holiday season marketers that want to cash in on this playful product should probably order in the coming weeks. "We'll have it in stock during July, in time for Christmas orders," Greenspan says, "but we sell out very quickly."

And then there is the combo toy of a snowman, reindeer, and puppy dog. The threesome animatedly sing, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," while the snowman moves his body and spins his hat. Meanwhile, the reindeer flaps his antlers and the pup balances on the snowball and spins a ball on his nose. The product is 14 inches tall, uses six AA batteries, and is priced at $16.50 per unit. Once again, marketers looking to capitalize on the yuletide season are advised not to wait too long. Interactive toys are bound to move quickly during a consumer era that increasingly values fun gadgets. Call it the "iPad effect." Independent retailers cannot help but continue to restock their shelves with R.E. Greenspan's high-tech products.

Great Halloween Products
If you are a retailer looking to bolster Halloween items, is also a fantastic place to find the best spookily-inspired products at great prices. Greenspan's "Phantom On Motorcycle" toy has been a best seller for years. The motor on the toy revs as it rocks side to side, with the phantom rider moving realistically. The skeletonish caricature sings the classic 1970s song by The Trammps, "Disco Inferno," makes fun motor sounds, and has a flashing headlight. It costs $9.50 wholesale, or $57 for a case of six, while coming complete with AA batteries in an attractive "Try me" box.

That is just the start of Greenspan's Halloween possibilities. Other electronic items include the Rockin' Warlock with Guitar, $75 per dozen; Wendy the Witch, $105 per dozen; Fiber Optic Witch, $132 per 24 pack, and a Fiber Optic Spider in a Web, $69 per six items. Greenspan says his customer care team will be happy to discuss products for any upcoming seasonal shopping period. "Of course, a lot of customer service is on the Internet now," he says. "But quite a bit of it is still on the telephone. If you get a recording, we will call you right back. We guarantee the highest quality of our merchandise, and our customers demand quality. We have to hold our standards to the highest degree."

Looking Ahead
Greenspan's wisdom and customer-first attitude have not come without learning from some less-than-heartwarming developments in the general wholesale world. He fondly remembers the days when wholesalers, manufacturers, and local retailers would convene at trade shows, and everyone got to know everyone. The industry seemed to be more of a close-knit atmosphere. "The country has so changed," Greenspan says. "When I started, I had never heard of Walmart, never heard of Toys R Us, and had never heard of Target. Now there are so many fewer stores compared to 38 years ago. Every time a big box retailer opens another store in an area, one of the smaller players is gone. And it's unlikely that it will ever return to the old situation."

Business has continued to be healthy for R.E. Greenspan Co., which operates out of a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Philadelphia, PA. And even though he is already an industry legend, Robert Greenspan does not sound anywhere close to being done building his company. In what can be described as a grandfatherly voice, Greenspan expressed his love for great products. "Some of these toys we sell are really, really fun," he says. "I am always interested to see the new ones and what they can do."

For more information:
R.E. Greenspan Co., Inc.
2100 Byberry Road
Philadelphia, PA 19116-3026
Tel.: 215-676-0400
Toll Free: 800-333-0180
Fax: 215-676-1704

Topic: Company Profiles

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Article ID: 1603

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