Quick Turnaround

`Toon Time

By Karen E. Spaeder

About five years ago, Daniel Ford was ready to open his own jewelry store in a mall near his Lewisville, Texas, home. He'd negotiated his lease and done his homework--plus he had years of retail experience under his belt. Soon, though, Ford found himself looking for a new opportunity when the deal fell through due to circumstances beyond his control.

That may have been just what he needed. Rather than open a jewelry store, Ford discovered Chuckies, a business opportunity that sells novelty gifts. "My fear--which I've overcome--was that I would fail and I'd be out of money," says the 32-year-old, who sells personalized pictures (like the one at right) and mouse pads featuring the Chuckies cartoon characters from carts in malls and at crafts shows. "But I decided the only way to succeed was to take a chance."

Beyond that, though, Ford has found that his success stems from the solid support he receives from the headquarters of parent company Cowboy Chuck Co. in Moorpark, California; his loyal staff; and his active involvement in the business, which he operates only during November and December.

The products, he adds, can appeal to anyone--provided you have the necessary gusto to sell. "It's not a product that sells itself," says Ford, who expects sales of $250,000 this season. "You have to find out what each person's interests are and personalize their product. To make it work, you have to be into the business 100 percent."

Start-up costs for a Chuckies opportunity range from $895 to $5,750.

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