So you were selling spas here. What happened with that? Are they not selling?
No, there are just so many spa companies in town that it's not very profitable for us to sell spas, because we're such a small company. Unless you've got 50 different models and all the options and everything--we just don't have the space for that. So we decided to get out of the spa business. We've got one left, and we sell them to our regular customers out of a catalog, but as far as having them here in the shop, it just wasn't very profitable for us.
So what made you think of going into yo-yos?
Well, I went to the mall one day with my wife and kids, and my son wanted a yo-yo, so I decided to buy him one. I played with it for a while, and I was like, "Well, that's pretty cool. I'll look online and see what everyone's doing with yo-yos now." There's just a huge yo-yo community in the United States right now. There are eight or 10 different online stores; there are tons of forums and all kinds of stuff. So I bought another yo-yo online. ... Saw it online (for) $80, and I thought I'd order it. What the hell? So I ordered it, got it, and it comes in this box. I open the box up, and I pull this little, tiny thing out for $80. I'm like, "Oh my God."
What's it made out of--gold?
Aluminum! All it is, is aluminum. There are limited editions. Most of your high-end aluminum yo-yos are limited editions. They make a run of 100 to 300 yo-yos and sell 'em out, and then change the design. So there's a lot of "collectability" that goes along with buying yo-yos nowadays. But I started playing with it; my wife bought a yo-yo. She needed some friction stickers or Dif-Pads.
They're little stickers that go on the inside of almost all the new, modern yo-yos.
What does that do?
It creates a bind in the yo-yo. That's what actually grabs the string, because they've got a ball bearing in them now. So they spin really well; they sleep forever, and then when you give them a little tug, the string binds up on this sticker.
What does it mean to sleep?
To just sit and spin at the bottom of the string. But, like I said, her friction stickers wore out, and we needed to get her some more, so we went looking around town, and we couldn't find anyone in town who was selling yo-yos. And I thought, "Well, you know, there's extra space in the shop, and it can't be that expensive to sell them." There are so many people doing them now, so what the heck? For a minimal investment, we got a full line of yo-yos--all the high-end yo-yos, all the way from $3 to $300. And that's how it all started.
What separates a high-end yo-yo from a not-so-high-end yo-yo?
I guess it would be material and price. It's materials, the amount of them that were made, whether they were mass-produced or made in a limited production. Name brand, also. Duncan does most of the low-end yo-yos or the mid-range. They've still got a pretty good handle on the market with their Freehand. The Freehand Zero, the plastic one there--for $18, you can have a yo-yo that can be used as is, or if you wanted to modify it, you could do tons of stuff.
Trick out your yo-yo? Cool.
Yeah, for example, you can spend $11 on some weight rings. They snap into the side, and it adds about 11 grams of weight to the total weight of the yo-yo.
Does that make it easier to use?
Makes it heavier, and it spins longer. The sleep time's a lot longer, and you can do a lot more string tricks in that time with the yo-yo spinning.
Have you always been into yo-yos?
Not really. I mean, I was as a kid--I guess back in junior high, high school, I was kind of into them, but nowhere near the extent where I am now. I just kind of got hooked on it. It's something to do rather than sitting around and watching TV or playing video games. It's having a good time and perfecting your skills.