sweet floam - imagearea.co.uk



sweet floam - imagearea.co.uk
30 TN60.final
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30 ToyNews August ‘06
sweet floam
Distributor The In Thing may just have this year’s hit
craze on its hands with quirky modeling putty Floam. Is
Floam the answer to retails woes? Jon Salisbury grabs
a chat with MD, Paul Jackson to find out…..
FLOAM is the product sold by The
In Thing that has been hitting the
headlines recently and winning big
retail support in the UK. But how did
the firm end up in the toy market?
Paul Jackson started in retail and
once owned a number of greeting
card/gift shops, so he was ideally
placed to see what was happening at
the sharp end of the business and the
kind of products that were driving
huge volumes.
When Ty Beanie Babies started to
sell extremely well in the late 90s, he
quickly realised that there was a huge
demand from the secondary market
for retired and rare styles, while the
strict account opening conditions
enforced by Ty Europe meant that
there was a massive number of
retailers who wanted to stock Ty
products but were not allowed.
Bingo, a profitable business was born.
“The In Thing was formed in early
2000 selling mainly Ty beanies plus
Pokémon from a very small spare
storeroom above one of my shops,”
Jackson recalls. “I started with just
two staff, who still work for The In
Thing today, and the rest, as they say
is history. We now have 33 staff and
operate out of a 12,000 square foot
purpose built unit.”
That unit is in Accrington in
The In Thing has over 20 working
websites, with its main two being
TheInThing.com for wholesale and
distribution and IWantIWant.com for
retail. Jackson has definitely made
the web work for him and is not
scared of developing different sites for
different occasions. “We have
numerous ‘mini sites’ that are usually
specific to certain products that we
are concentrating on at the time.”
The edges are definitely being
blurred between supplier and retailer
these days but Jackson considers
himself to be a wholesaler/distributor
and takes advantage of the firm’s
extensive e-commerce capabilities
with retail websites. But always
selling at the suggested RRP so as not
to upset the retailers that it supplies.
To quote from the firm’s site: “As a
reseller, choose any number of our
3,500+ products and sell them in
your shop, on eBay or on your
website. As a manufacturer, we can
offer you a virtual warehouse with
next day fulfilment for all your retail
needs”. The In Thing can post direct
to resellers’ customers with despatch
documents detailing their company
logo without the hassle of buying,
holding or shipping stock as it has
the infrastructure to handle
thousands of orders a day.
Floam is one product that The In
Thing has been selling that really
seems to have caught the public and
the trade’s imagination.
It has even led to the introduction
of a new verb in the language of the
toy trade: to floam.
The majority of
interest for
Floam has originated
from the United States
where it’s huge.
Paul Jackson
Floam is described as a microbead
compound, a modeling clay crossed
with porridge. With hundreds of tiny
balls that give it a stretchy quality, a
lightweight feel and a funky texture
and manages to stick to almost
everything without being messy. It’s
squishy, stretchy and can transform
anything into a Floam creation.
Readers may recall the original
Floam being sold by Mattel under
licence from Nickelodeon.
“I researched Floam and
immediately knew it was perfect for
The In Thing, so contacted the New
York-based manufacturers and
initiated discussions regarding
distribution rights in the UK. A
distribution agreement was signed in
early April for TheInThing.com to
distribute Floam on behalf of the
SAS Group of New York to the UK
and Ireland. We have recently
afforded Magsons a sub distribution
agreement to further increase the
availability of Floam.”
With over 3,500 products in its
range at any one time, The In Thing
has to constantly update its range
with hot, topical products. “We have
recently secured the sole UK
distribution rights to another superb
toy based product that we will be
launching in either early September
or mid-December,” says Jackson.
“We are very confident that this
new product will prove as popular, if
not more popular, than Floam.”