If you’ve ever seen one of those coin-operated crane machines where you try to grab a colorful plush animal with a grapple-hook, you’ve dealt with California based Prizes! “The company was founded back in 1986 as a distributor to the coin-operated crane amusement market,” says General Manager Tom Portale. “We were the first to offer pre-packs of prizes when the technology first came out, providing a variety of stuffed toys which we changed very week, so operators always had new and fresh stock,” he adds. From there, Prizes! grew rapidly, “and as we grew, we joined forces with a couple of companies that made licensed sport-souvenir items,” Portale says.
It was only a matter of time before he realized the products could also be sold in stores, so Portale started developing a retail business for these same items, and his focus evolved into selling to retailers. “We now sell items licensed from the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and 100 different colleges,” he says.
By far the company’s biggest seller is its 14” plush bear in a team color hoodie. “The bear comes in the team’s primary color, and the hoodie is in the accent color of the team,” Portale says. It’s got the team logo on the front, and is available for all professional teams and 40+ colleges. The Hoodie Bear wholesales for $7.75 and retails for a healthy $19.99. Minimum order is only $100, and retailers can mix and match whichever bears they’d like. Discounts are available for quantity orders, and a four-tier spinner display is free with an order of 48 bears or more. “It’s a great seller,” Portale says, “especially on game day. We’re also found that initial orders lead to larger orders because the bears sell so well.”
For retailers looking to expand their sports product line, Prizes! may be the way to go. “We sell a variety of inexpensive souvenir sports novelties for all the various seasons,” Portale says, “from the NCAA Final Four, through the NHL, NBA and MLB seasons, right back into football.”
–Rory J. Thompson