With the holidays squarely in the retail rear view mirror at Penguin Place a few of our recently sold out penguin items are becoming available again, while the last of some seasonal best sellers are finally selling out (possibly for keeps). Just sold out this weekend is our very popular Knit Penguin Pilot Hat (in adult sizes), as well as about half dozen Christmas Cards and Ornaments, Also, gone is our Cotton Penguin Throw, Hugging Couple Plush, 2010 Willow Creek Calendar, Penguin Travel Umbrella, Kids Waddle Toy, Penguin Pot Holder, and about a dozen other items. Some will be coming back in stock soon and others will have to wait to see what cool penguin goodies we find at the upcoming NY Gift and Toy Shows. Back in stock this past week is our fun Four Piece Penguin Tub Toy Set, Penguin Suspenders, 50 Sheet Memo Pad, Grand Piano Playing Penguin, Glitter Penguin Stickers and Jumbo Emperor Chick Plush. Also, arriving this week is the hilarious Evil Penguins book, K Bell Penguin Womens Socks in blue and green and already arrived is the refreshing Pingos Mints tins.
Posts Tagged ‘Penguin Shopping’
As we head into the stretch run we at Penguin Place just wanted to say that we’re all caught up with our orders and have received only a couple of calls from customers wanting to know “where the heck are my penguins?!”, and it those cases we have been able to track them down. We’re so caught up, that I’m actually going watch a movie with my wife tonight for the first time in a month. Also, it looks like we’ll be completely out of slippers by the end of the weekend, but we’ll have a new shipment here by 12/23 for all you folks looking for some belated Christmas penguin slippers. Also, the Penguin Pasta will be back in stock on Monday.
With Thanksgiving weekend just about come and gone and as we now dive head first into the Penguin Shopping Season Feeding Frenzy it appears from here that all our Penguin Place Igloo ducks, uh…I mean penguins are in a row. Our Penguin Place Christmas Section is presently comprised of 54 different penguin items with more on the way. This week after getting a little lost after waddling their way to our old Brooklyn igloo rather than Northampton our quilted Penguin Christmas stockings and holiday kitchen towels have arrived. They will soon be followed by our penguin holiday tree skirt and holiday penguin throw. Also, after taking a bit of a leisurely waddle to get here we now have 18 brand spanking new penguin Christmas Ornaments! That’s right I said 18 unique penguin ornaments have just arrived and none of the new ones are over $5.95. Also, just in is a mini 7″ x 7″ 2010 penguin nature calendar, chocolate penguin pops, holiday penguin socks for adults and kids, Magic Capri Penguin Pants and from what we hear through the penguin grape vine the Wind-Up Penguin Pooper may be making a comeback before weeks end!!
Today was a simply beautiful day in downtown Northampton, especially for this time of the year. Sunny and a high near 60 degrees is almost unheard of for mid November in the Pioneer Valley. Main street was bustling with natives and tourists as today was 20% off bag day all over town. With a special shopping bag given out around town folks can get 20% off in virtually any store. I only headed out to by some packing tape, but strolling around the towns many shops I couldn’t help but notice the many penguin items on display for the season. Many of the items Penguin Place already carries, but others like the heavy duty penguin welcome mats, giant fridge magnet display sets, penguin plates, china, serving trays, glassware, swizzle sticks and ceramic pitchers were on the shelves in various shops. Sadly, with the cost of shipping these days offering many of these large, heavy duty items becomes cost prohibitive to an on-line / mail order operation like mine. I gazed at some of these items longingly and wished I could offer them in my Penguin Place catalog and then grudgingly moved on, purchased my packing tape and went back to the igloo to pack up my “lightweight” penguin orders.
Very cute video of my two year old daughter Rose window shopping while waddling down Main St. in downtown Northampton on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65QiIg1hJ1M
Given that it was just my 50th birthday and we’re only a few months away from the 25th Anniversary of Penguin Place, I’ve been waddling down memory lane and mining some classic penguin press and stories from the past. This one is from 10 years ago and appeared in the front page o the Sunday NY Times City Section.
By Tara Bahrampour
NEGOTIATING her way past blocks of industrial warehouses, up a graffiti-covered stairwell and through an iron door that clangs shut behind her, the mother presents her plea.
”Remember I asked you about a penguin menorah?”
”Yeah,” comes the answer. ”I found one. But it had penguins and polar bears on it.”
”That’s fine,” she says excitedly. ”Did you get it for me?”
”No. I’m firmly opposed to penguins and polar bears together.”
Thus speaks Penguin Eric, emperor of a rarefied realm who tolerates no sloppiness when it comes to his favorite bird. Penguins live at the South Pole, polar bears at the North. As a purveyor of penguin paraphernalia around the globe, publisher of an international penguin newsletter, and guru for penguin lovers worldwide, it is up to him to uphold propriety.
It’s a big responsibility, but Penguin Eric, 39, whose real name is Eric Bennett, performs his duties happily. Each morning he wakes up in his spacious loft on Water Street in Dumbo, the artsy Brooklyn neighborhood down under the Manhattan bridge overpass, and steps behind a curtain. On the other side is the Igloo, a 900-square-foot wall-to-wall repository of plush stuffed penguins, penguin posters, inflatable penguins, penguin hockey jerseys, penguin potholders, beach towels, videos and key chains. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Mr. Bennett and his full-time assistant, Penguin Heather (Heather Stull), 28, are constantly on the alert for anything that comes in penguin, frequently updating their catalogue and Web site.
Growing up in Queens Village, Mr. Bennett said, he was ”pretty normal” until, as a history major at Queens College, he started dating a woman who ”liked ballet, Cape Cod and penguins.” But though he had caught the fever, filling his room with renditions of the black-and-white Antarctic bird, he didn’t consider making a career out of them until he visited an outdoor market in Boston one day in 1984.
”I was walking past all these themed pushcarts — pigs, Hello Kitty, rubber stamps — and I suddenly thought, ‘If I did a penguin one it would be cuter than any of them,’ ” he said.
Back in New York, he filled out a vendor application at the South Street Seaport, and to his surprise, he said, it was immediately accepted. Mr. Bennett moved back in with his parents, sold his car and scraped together $4,000 for a pushcart rental, fixtures and two weeks’ worth of inventory.
”My parents thought I was nuts,” he said. ”My grandparents didn’t understand. They thought I was selling real penguins.”
Within months, Mr. Bennett’s Next Stop . . . South Pole had expanded into a store in the Seaport, and he soon branched out to locations in Baltimore, Miami, Los Angeles, Colorado Springs and Washington. Eventually, he said, he realized that ”five more businesses meant 20 times more problems with staff and inventory.” Only his Baltimore outpost remains.
As for his New York business, Mr. Bennett said he decided it was time to migrate in June 1998, when he was told that his Seaport store rent would be doubling. He closed down his shop and turned his attention to the mail-order Web site, Penguin Place (www.penguin-place.com), which he had started three years earlier. Last year, he said, his business had sales of $350,000. This year, he said he expected a significant increase thanks to on-line sales, which he said have tripled in the last 12 months.
Still, skeptics might wonder if such a specific niche is dependable over the long run. It’s a delicate balance, Mr. Bennett said. Penguins must be in demand, but not too much. ”Penguins are cute, people like penguins, but if penguins get too popular, like if Macy’s started carrying them . . . .” He trailed off, unwilling to go there.
Mr. Bennett said his customers spanned national and cultural divides. ”We have a penguin-collecting rabbi and a penguin-collecting priest,” he said. ”We have really rich people on Park Avenue with collections insured in the six figures, antique crystal penguins and stuff like that.”
Perhaps Mr. Bennett’s strangest customer to date is a man known as Monsieur Pingouin, who goes around his small village in Belgium eating sardines and dressing like a penguin. ”He’s decided he’s metamorphosing into a penguin,” he said. ”He wants to be buried in his penguin costume, and he wants to donate his corpse to science so they can study how much of his body is actually penguin.”
But most of his clientele, he said, consists of ”middle-class, regular people.” Some come from as far away as Australia and New Zealand to load up on penguinalia. For others, Mr. Bennett’s living room, lined with antique cameras and vintage records, functions as a sort of penguin hearth where stories are exchanged.
Michael Ringler, 31, an actor and collector from Austin, Tex., who was visiting recently, tried to explain the attraction. ”Penguins are so mild, so friendly,” he said. ”They’re like someone from Iowa in the big city. There’s just a charm and an innocence about them.”
The menorah seeker, Belline Manopla, 36, a customer for 11 years, said she thought her penguin habit had a positive effect on her two toddlers. ”If you bring children to appreciate one particular subject, they learn a lot more quickly,” she said. ”My kids can quote facts about penguins.”
”My husband thinks I’m crazy,” she added, before turning to check out the rows of stuffed penguins awaiting new homes.