Who Needs 'Em?

Traditional retailers are no longer the only game in town.

When Craig Winchell attended the 1998 American International Toy Fair in New York, he was sure he'd have no problem lining up sales for Conscience, his interactive board game for parents to teach their children the difference between right and wrong with real-world examples. But disappointment soon set in, as Winchell realized not even one of the major retailers in attendance had any interest in the game. Ten years ago, that might have been the end of Winchell's entrepreneurial pursuit. But not today, in the age of the Internet.

As Winchell discovered, a whole slew of e-tailers were willing to take a risk on new yet unproven products. EToys was just one of the dotcoms on the prowl for products like Conscience, hoping to set their sites apart from traditional retailers. Thanks to those e-tailers willing to take the chance on him, in 1998, Winchell's company, GoRu (Golden Rule) Products, sold close to 5,000 games. And in 1999, sales for his Dallas, Texas, company approached 10,000 units. Although Winchell, 39, currently generates 20 percent of his sales through specialty retailers, the majority of his sales continue to rush in through major Internet retailers Amazon.com, eToys.com, and toysmart.com.

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This article was originally published in the July 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Who Needs 'Em?.

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