Penguin kiosk, South St. Seaport, October 1985
Way back in 1985 a young man (me) with a passion for penguins, opened a small pushcart filled with the aforementioned penguins at the fledgling South St. Seaport in NYC and he (me again) called it Next Stop South Pole. A year or so later that cart became a store, then along came the All-Penguin Mail Order Catalog, by 1995 a newsletter called The Penguin Post, two years later a static website, and a year after that a shop at home on-line e-tail store called penguin-place.com. By 2000 we opted to concentrate on Penguin Place, as we closed our Seaport Store and never looked back.
Back in ’97 when we first started the on-line version of our penguin vision we knew enough that we couldn’t call it Next Stop…South Pole, and that our website needed to have “Penguin” in the name and url, but back 1997 we simply didn’t realize how important the other key words in the url would become. I remember while working on the website pondering long and hard over the right name and being so clueless as to what the correct parameters were other than it should have penguin in the name. We (myself and my web developer) were so naive back then that I simply opted for the “cool” sounding Penguin Place over something less cute and more straightforward, and to top it off my web developer somehow assumed that putting a dash between the words Penguin and Place was the right thing to do. Don’t ask me why he thought a dash was the way to go, but since he had a better computer than me and nerdy glasses I assumed he had to be on to something and the dash was what was required.
1990′s Penguin Mail Order Catalog
Anyway, a few years went by and things at Penguin-Place.com are waddling along nicely, when one day in 2004 my right hand man at Penguin HQ Jake (who’s getting married today) tells me that he just received an e-mail from a customer with some disturbing news regarding our exclusive hold on niche penguin e-tailing. It was a link to a new store that went by the moniker penguingiftshop.com. Suddenly, we were no longer alone in the world of on-line penguin shopping. There was now an east coast Penguin Place and a west coast based Penguin Gift Shop. One would think that in the world of e-tailing that the actual geography of our respective “Igloos” wouldn’t matter, but in reality it did because of what each penguin store brought to the table in the way of product. You see, due to the fact that we (Penguin Place) found virtually all our inventory at the East Coast trade shows and the Oregon based PGS shopped at all the west coast shows our inventories were quite varied considering we both were exclusively penguins.
All things considered, the two all-penguin websites co-existed quite nicely, but there was no denying the fact that the name Penguingiftshop was far superior with a much more organic url as opposed to Penguin-Place. Now, fast forward to about a month ago when out of the clear Antarctic blue sky I received an e-mail from Mark, the proprietor of Penguin Gift Shop stating that he and his wife were on the verge of retiring and wanting to know if I was interested in purchasing Penguingiftshop! What he was offering was the entire inventory of penguin merchandise along the website, url and all. The whole penguin enchilada! It didn’t take me long to figure out that this would be a win-win for everyone and within a few days we had an agreement. Earlier this week the penguins from PGS began waddling in (via FedEx) from the west coast and by the end of next week the migration will be complete. As far as the name of our joined website goes we thought and consulted long and hard with everyone from my webmaster, SEO consultants, friends, family, my kids and even some penguins at the Coney Island Aquarium, and the consensus is that PenguinGiftShop is simply the perfect name for what our business was, is and will be, and had we known the importance of this 15 years ago we already would have been that brand or something close to that.
The fact remains that as familiar as we are to the name Penguin Place, it is far too clunky and awkward in this age of niche url’s to continue on as is, and given this opportunity to change it to something more Google-friendly we can’t be swayed by sentiment or nostalgia. So, the compromise we’ve made following the advice of my kids is to call the new version of our on-line igloo, the Penguin Gift Shop at Penguin Place, with our url officially becoming PenguinGiftShop.com. The website will basically be (and look) exactly the same, just with the new url and header, along with a boat load of new penguin goodies. In other words, as told to me by my web developer, the present Penguin Gift Shop will disappear with its remaining penguin products incorporated into Penguin Place, but then Penguin Place will have its official url changed to Penguingiftshop.com. I’m told it will be seamless, and I have my flippers crossed that it will. In case you haven’t noticed we’ve been adding about 50 new items a day for the past week, albeit most of them are still in “sold out” status until we unpack them. But, by the end of next week we’ll have about 300 new (west coast) penguin items in our inventory, bringing our total to an unbelievable 1000 different penguin items (give or take a waddler). To think we started 25 years ago with 40 penguin goodies. What does this mean for you, the penguin loving public? Nothing, unless you like having more penguins to choose from, convenient one stop shopping, cheaper / easier shipping and the same great customer service. We’re still very much the same mom and pop (and two kids) penguin shop we always were. I guess that makes it a win – win – win!
The new look for when Penguin Place becomes the Penguin Gift Shop at Penguin Place.