Internet Rescues Lego Storage Invention from Mauling by Retail Buyers

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Expose outlining trials and tribulations of a inventor's difficulty in marketing and selling their innovative invention for organizing kids' Legos, BOX4BLOX, through traditional retail channels. How by them moving their manufacturing to the United States and by utilizing the Internet as the marketing vehicle to promote the benefits of their invention to their target market they have overcome these difficulties.

Since its humble beginnings in a workshop in Denmark, LEGO has been the consummate children's toy for over 50 years. Unfortunately, ever since Lego was invented, these same interlocking plastic bricks, with their penchant for ending up all over the floor, have also been the bane of most family households, but for Moms and Dads in America this every day problem has now come to an end.

Invented by New Zealand based Peter and Moira Botherway, themselves parents of four children, the BOX4BLOX provides a simple and innovative storage solution, which turns that everyday Lego mess into organizational magic.

After the trials and tribulations of selling their invention through traditional retail outlets in New Zealand and Australia, the inventors are now manufacturing the BOX4BLOX in America, where they are marketing it exclusively online, via their web site: .

The BOX4BLOX, already voted "Best New Home Organizing Product of the Year" by the National Association of Professional Organizers, works by simply sorting the various plastic blocks and elements through a series of trays with different sized grids. All the large pieces end up in the top yellow tray, the medium to large in the blue tray with the medium grid, the small to medium in the red tray with the small grid and all the hard-to-find tiny pieces end up in the bottom tray. Because the blocks can be easily found from their individual trays, there is no need to tip them over the floor. Made from quality ABS plastic, when assembled with the four trays and lid, the BOX4BLOX makes a colorful 10¼-inch cube that can hold up to 1,700 LEGO bricks.

"BOX4BLOX was the classic light-bulb moment," says Moira Botherway, who along with husband Peter created the handy storage system. " I had spent nearly two hours sorting all the kids' Lego sets into a large drawer with various containers, only for my 4-year-old to upturn everything within minutes of finishing. That's when I said to Peter that, 'Someone should invent something to sort LEGO, like those things they use to sort coins at the bank." And the BOX4BLOX idea was born.

If there's any doubt that BOX4BLOX has a place in every home, the statistics prove otherwise. Financial magazine, The Economist, reported that, on average, everyone in the world has 52 LEGO bricks each. The annual production of LEGO bricks averages approximately 2 billion per year, or roughly 600 pieces per second. And that's just the amount of new bricks. Since LEGO bricks made in 1963, still interlock with those manufactured today, the amount of bricks continue to multiply at a staggering rate.

"As parents of four children ourselves, we have always known that the BOX4BLOX was a great product", says Peter Botherway, and I suppose with over 50,000 units sold here in New Zealand and Australia was testament to this". However what we learnt most from our attempts to market the BOX4BLOX to date, was that selling through traditional retail outlets as a "one product vendor" is extremely difficult. The truth is, all the stories you hear about "shark-like" retail buyers are absolutely true and quite honestly there is nothing they enjoy more than preying on the vulnerability of a small supplier."

"They demand 60 - 90 day payment terms or if not huge prompt payment discounts; they want exclusivity or if not they will only sell on consignment, whereby they only pay for when the product sells; on top of that they expect promotion and advertising rebates; volume rebates, "just-in-time" delivery, and every other "parasitic squeeze" that they can extract from your ever decreasing margins".

Even when the buyer likes your product, the "bean counters" hate setting up new vendor accounts, especially for one product and will demand that the account be established through a wholesale distributor company who has an existing vendor account with the retailer. This opens up another 'can of worms", as you are now reliant on an intermediary to sell your product, which means that by the time you make a margin, the distributor makes a margin and the retailer makes a margin, the product still has to maintain a price point that is attractive to the end consumer.

On top of this you have the various logistics and distribution costs, which mean that unless a product can be sold at a price point of at least five to six times its manufactured cost, selling through retail stores is just not an option for any small supplier. The final straw for us was when our largest customer went into Chapter 11 and nearly took us with them.

This was the reason we were so excited when we were introduced to the marketing power of the Internet. "Our decision to move our manufacturing to the US has meant we were now able to market the BOX4BLOX, via our website, , directly to our target market of Moms and Dads in a country nearly 100 times larger than the New Zealand market.

"The Internet has opened a whole new world for small companies like ours to market and distribute their niche products. By selling the BOX4BLOX direct, we can eliminate normal intermediary margins and sell the BOX4BLOX to our customers at an affordable price point. "I'm still in awe by the fact that we operate our business from our home in New Zealand; our manufacturer is in California; our shopping cart is in Canada; and our merchant account is in Scotland. This great new medium now allows us, and other companies to market and deliver their niche products directly to our target markets, without having to deal with the predatory retail buyers.


Peter and Moira Botherway
Simplastix Innovations, LTD

simplastix @
Phone: 64 9 4223170 (NZ)
Fax: 64 9 4223175 (NZ)

20 Ashmore Crescent
Warkworth, 0910
New Zealand


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