Posts Tagged ‘Igloo’

Inside Penguin Place In Pictures

September 28, 2011

Being an on-line / mail order company nearly all our customers have never set foot in our “Igloo”.  So, here’s a little sneak peak at Penguin Place, and our office / warehouse featuring my daughter Sophie.

A look at some of our plush and houseware with Sophie peaking out from behind the packing table.

Where we keep most of our incredible selection of penguin toys including the legendary penguin pooper.

Sophie in the Captains chair with some of our plush and penguin toys in the background.

Packing table, desk and view out the window. Notice some of my personal penguin collection in the window frame..

Some of our penguin tee and sweatshirts. On the right is our 2012 penguin calendars and tissue boxes.

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Whole Lotta Penguin Shaken

August 23, 2011

Thought I was losing it when all the plush penguins on the shelves at Penguin Place began to spontaneously waddle, when I heard to my relief that I was witnessing the results of an earthquake.  Yes, an earthquake in western Mass.  Apparently the odds of a quake here are not much greater than my plush penguins waddling on their own, but there you have it.  Apparently, these east coast quakes are quite different than the more prominent quakes of the west coast and Japan.  These are not as severe and can be felt for hundreds of miles.  The one we felt here in our Igloo was centered in the Carolina’s.  Now, we await the waddling aftershocks.

Shaken not stirred penguin.

Penguin Shot Glass Back In Stock

July 30, 2011

After a month hiatus, a new shipment of our very popular, exclusive penguin couple shot glasses finally arrived here at our igloo yesterday afternoon. Our back orders have been shipped, and the shot glasses are on the shelves and ready for a home.  What makes these penguin shot glasses especially cool is that they are available for customizing by adding names and dates to the reverse side if ordered in quantities of 100 or more.  Perfect for penguin loving wedding, Bar Mitzvah’s or other large events.

Waddles Next For Brooklyn’s Penguins?

November 8, 2009

As part of our 25th anniversary celebration we’ve been digging up some interesting “blast from the past” penguin place news stories from years gone by. This is by Dana Rubinstein of the award winning Brooklyn Paper from August 4th 2007.

The world’s largest online penguin paraphernalia retailer — Brooklyn’s own “Penguin Place” — is so ruffled by a Hollywood-inspired explosion in competition, that he’s re-tooling his Web site.

“I went from being the only penguin store online to one of a few and soon at this rate I’ll be one of many ,” said Eric Bennett, referring to the impact that the two hit movies, “March of the Penguins” and “Happy Feet,” had on his business. “The penguin pie may have gotten bigger, but it’s getting sliced up into lots of pieces. Even with all the added interest in penguins my sales have stayed the same.”

Bennett, a youthful looking, 46 year old, dad-about-DUMBO, has operated www.penguin-place. com for 10 years. This is the first time his dominion over the online penguin paraphernalia business has been challenged. Or even, frankly, noticed.

In response to competition from fly by night recent penguin themed sites Bennett, will re-launch his new and improved Penguin Place Webbed site later this month.

“My present ‘Penguin Place’ is … very cute and quaint, and everyone likes it, but it dates back from 1998 and folks are simply driving past and going to the mall,” he said.

Bennett has been in the business of selling penguin bric-a-brac for 20 years, his Web site preceded by actual retail outlets.

Since 1997, he’s run his Web site out of what he’s dubbed “The Igloo” — a home office on the fifth floor of an old factory building that some call the “DUMBO Museum” for its apparent refusal to go luxury, like the rest of its neighbors in Brooklyn’s SoHo.

The Igloo itself harkens back to a less orderly age: extensions cords hang from dirty pipes, while brown boxes erupt with penguin onesies, T-shirts, slippers, wallpaper, and less mundane penguin items, like the Waddling Penguin Pooper — which, after you wind it up, deposits small brown plastic candies from its behind (yes, it’s a big seller).

One of the few penguin items not for sale is a bottle of Penguin Ale given him by Rex Hunt, the former governor of the Falkland Islands, home to the Rockhopper penguin.

Some of Bennett’s most ardent buyers include members of the big city philharmonics (apparently, because they resemble penguins in their tuxedos and bow ties), and a running group for overweight people called “The Waddlers.”

Bennett’s entanglement with the Gentoos and Blackfoots of the world began when he was a freshman at Queens College and dating his “first real girlfriend.”

“She liked gymnastics, the ballet, and she also liked penguins,” said Bennett. “Me being a normal 18-year-old guy, I started getting her penguins. And she reciprocated. It sort of became known amongst our friends and family that penguins were our thing.

“When we split up in my junior year, I had already a major foothold in penguin paraphernalia,” said Bennett.

A couple of years after graduating, Bennett visited Boston’s Quincy Market, which had just been revamped and was flush with stores selling all manner of kitschy stuff.

There was Hog Heaven, with its stuffed cows and bovine salt-and-pepper shakers, and a unicorn store filled with “mythological things, so I thought why not penguins?” So, back in New York, on a dare from a friend, Bennett visited South Street Seaport and submitted an application to open a penguin pushcart.

And so, on May 15, 1985, “Next Stop South Pole” was hatched. The original penguin loving ex-girlfriend helped design the cart and was Bennett’s sole employee the first year, and Bennett filled it with penguin items he’d bought from toy trade shows.

“The first week, my parents would pull up chairs about 20 feet away, near the food court, and just watch, because they couldn’t understand what I was doing,” said Bennett.

Soon, he moved into a kiosk, and then into a store on Pier 17. He eventually had a location in Baltimore, seasonal carts in Miami and Colorado, a mail-order catalog and a quarterly magazine about penguins called “The Penguin Post.”

Along the way, Bennett nurtured his love for penguins — he says, “I’ve never met a penguin I didn’t like, which is more than I can say for most people I’ve met.”

Meanwhile, Bennett has had to adapt to a shifting business climate. In the 1990s, as the rest of the city became more tourist friendly, South Street Seaport lost its unique luster. While at the same time the Internet grew, so by the end of the decade he closed all his retail penguin outlets and was running his business entirely online out of his DUMBO loft.

“By 2000, I was grossing as much as I did during my best years at the Seaport, but without any of the overhead!” said Bennett.

The ex-girlfriend, the progenitor of Bennett’s penguin fixation, and now a purchaser of merchandise for Disney theme parks, said she’s not surprised by Bennett’s success.

“He definitely has an enterprising sort of spirit, so he’s able to make it work,” said the former flame, Robin Feinsot.

Bennett was typically humble about his accomplishments.

“I was 24 when I came up with the concept,” said Bennett. “I also thought a spooky carwash was a good idea.”

Well, one out of two ain’t bad.

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Bennett Chilling In His Brooklyn Igloo