Sweets Kendamas Flying Off the Shelves at Alfresco Casual Living in Downtown Stillwater
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If you’re a parent of a school-aged child, chances are you need no introduction to the kendama fad.
A kendama is a traditional Japanese toy made up of a large cup, small cup, end cup, spike and a ball, all connected by a string.
“It’s like the modern day hacky sac or yo-yo,” Meg Brownson, owner of Alfresco Casual Living in downtown Stillwater said. “Kids do all sorts of tricks they learn online by watching videos.”
Brownson began carrying a Minnesota-made version called Sweets Kendamas last summer.
“My sales rep for kids and baby merchandise told me I had to bring these in—kids are going crazy over them,” she said. “At first they were selling, but it wasn’t anything crazy.”
That all changed.
“Just before Christmas it started taking off,” she said. “I could hardly keep up. Since Christmas it has taken off even more. It just keeps building and building and building.”
Matt "Sweets" Jorgenson started the company after he saw Japanese snowboarders playing with them online a couple of years ago.
"I couldn't find one in the United States," Jorgenson told KARE 11. "That's what made me start the business."
His crew supplies shops like Alfresco with custom-painted kendamas that are made locally at his shop in Bloomington.
Once school gets out there is a steady stream of people coming in for Kendamas. Brownson began placing orders for 100 Sweets Kendamas once every two weeks. As the fad grew she upped her orders to once a week, and now she gets shipments three times a week.
“It started with high school kids, then it was all the junior highs and now it’s the elementary schools,” she said. “Parents love them because it’s not a video game. It really helps with hand-eye coordination.”
The Sweets Kendamas available at Alfresco range in style and price from $23-39. The black and red kendama is the most popular because of the Pony colors.
If Alfresco is sold out, Brownson takes names and will call when the Kendamas arrive.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Bronson said.