When Good Penguins Go Bad

Everyone once in a while we offer up to the penguin loving public what we at Penguin Place call a “Shackleton”.   Named after the intrepid early 20th century explorer Ernest Shackleton who along with his crew were stranded on the Antarctic ice for over 2 years, this has become the term we use for a penguin item never sells.  In other words, stranded at Penguin Place.  In our South Pole Penguin Pillow I originally thought this item to be a cool, unique, exciting, different, fun penguin product that penguin lovers the world over would embrace, and then to my chagrin it never sold, no matter how I featured it or the increasingly discounted price it never sold.  Yes, I may love penguins, and after 25 years in the penguin product business I have a fairly good track record, but no one bats a thousand. Of the 700 or so items we carry at Penguin Place, there’s usually a 35% turnover every year, meaning about 200 penguin items waddle out and about the same number waddle into our inventory annually, and within that number one seems to happen every few months.  A stinker. A Shackleton.  Some unfortunate penguin that we liked, ordered and inventoried,  but no one in the penguin loving public wants anything to do with.   No recent product has illustrated this more than our Penguins Of The South Pole Pillow.  When I saw it at the 2011 New York Gift Show I absolutely loved it.  I loved everything about it, the concept, the artwork, the design, the originality, the packaging, the company that made it and the material. The only reservation  I had was the hefty price at $149.95 retail.  But, the hand stitched detail, unique design and retro fun of this over sized pillow seemed to me to be perfect for penguin collectors that had thought they’d seen it all.  There was even a Penguins of The South Pole dish towel for $19.95 (now $7.95) for those who liked the design but couldn’t use the large pillow or price tag.   Honestly, I thought they’d make great holiday gifts.  I thought wrong.  In the past year we’ve sold exactly one pillow to a collector overseas and just recently one towel at half price.  What really makes this item a true “Shackleton” is that since the holiday’s we’ve cut the price by 25%, then 50% and now 65% off, and still no takers.  Perplexed as we are, it’s become clear that no one wants this wonderful pillow (or dish towel for that matter) no matter what the price.  Eventually, like all Shackleton’s we will rid ourselves of these penguin products one way or another, but as history does repeat, sooner or later they will be replaced by another “Shackleton”, because plain and simple nobody bats a thousand in the penguin business.  Not even me.

Our stranded Penguin Pillow. Shackleton would be proud.

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