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Who Needs 'Em?

Traditional retailers are no longer the only game in town.

By Don Debelak

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When Craig Winchell attended the 1998 American International ToyFair in New York, he was sure he'd have no problem lining upsales for Conscience, his interactive board game for parents toteach their children the difference between right and wrong withreal-world examples. But disappointment soon set in, as Winchellrealized not even one of the major retailers in attendance had anyinterest in the game. Ten years ago, that might have been the endof Winchell's entrepreneurial pursuit. But not today, in theage of the Internet.

As Winchell discovered, a whole slew of e-tailers were willingto take a risk on new yet unproven products. EToys was just one ofthe dotcoms on the prowl for products like Conscience, hoping toset their sites apart from traditional retailers. Thanks to thosee-tailers willing to take the chance on him, in 1998,Winchell's company, GoRu (Golden Rule) Products, sold close to5,000 games. And in 1999, sales for his Dallas, Texas, companyapproached 10,000 units. Although Winchell, 39, currently generates20 percent of his sales through specialty retailers, the majorityof his sales continue to rush in through major Internet,, and

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