Bleacher Creatures is a small business with big connections. Despite its creation just one year ago, the company, which has less than 10 employees, has been able to secure licenses from Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and the players' associations for those leagues. This allows Bleacher Creatures to make unique toys that look like fans' favorite players and features the logos of their favorite teams. Those distinctive products have helped the Plymouth Meeting, Penn.-based manufacturer to be featured in several prominent retailers, including the NFL Shop, NBA Store, MLB Shop, Fansedge.com and ClarkToys.com.
BusinessNewsDaily talked with Bleacher Creatures CEO Matthew Hoffman about how his small business was able to negotiate these deals with the major sports leagues.
BusinessNewsDaily: Tell us about your business?
Matthew Hoffman: Bleacher Creatures is a sports licensed toy company. Our mission is to connect kids and the young-at-heart to their favorite teams and players with toys that encourage fun, inspiration and play. We specialize in plush toys that take great athletes and turn them in to characters. Some of our other key items include mascot hand puppets, wind-up toys and dress-up items like superhero capes, princess tiaras and magic wands with team logos.
BND: How were you able to negotiate licenses with the MLB, NFL, NHL and the players' associations for those leagues?
MH: I have been in the sports license business for the last 15 years, most recently working with Majestic Athletic, who is the official outfitter of Major League Baseball. At the same time, I became a father and as I traveled to different ballparks, I had a hard time finding sports toys for my kids. I came up with the concept and presented it to my contacts at the leagues and player associations. Relationship and experience are so important in any aspect of business, and that is true with Bleacher Creatures relationships with the licensors. We know it is a privilege to have these partnerships and truly appreciate the relationship we have with our league partners.
BND: You had a signing with the New York Giants' Victor Cruz at the Toy Fair — what were you hoping to accomplish by having that? Was there a hope for increased exposure, sales or something else?
MH: Bleacher Creatures were very fortunate to have Victor Cruz at Toy Fair the week after the Giants Super Bowl victory. I think we wanted to accomplish a few things having Victor there. First, he has the same type of passion and youthful excitement for football as we want kids to have for our products, so we wanted to have a celebration of sport with him. We also wanted to show toy buyers who don’t always specialize in sports to see the passion and excitement people have for sports. Having Victor Cruz at Toy Fair really showed that type of fandom.
BND: What can other businesses learn from Bleacher Creatures?
MH: We are only a 1-year-old company, so I think we are learning more from other companies and partners every day. I think you learn early on that as a small company, you have to work harder than everyone else. You have to have flexibility, use data to understand the big opportunities and commit to having great value and service for your customers.
Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.