New Milford’s Create A Castle surges after TV appearance
An appearance on “Live with Kelly and Ryan” has sparked a busy summer for a New Milford couple.
Kevin and Laurie Lane, founders of Create A Castle, have seen their sandcastle-making system surge in popularity after Chris “The Toy Guy” Byrne featured the product as a hot summer toy on the May 31 episode of the popular morning program.
“That was huge. That was the catalyst for the summer and it worked out very well for the business,” Kevin Lane said. “The first five minutes after it aired ... it was amazing. We got 35 orders in five minutes. We saw orders flooding in from each time zone as the show aired across the country. We got crushed with orders for a week, week and a half after that.”
Lane said Create A Castle received about 500 orders in the two weeks following the show. Orders came from across the U.S. and Canada. The episode featured co-hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, Byrne and CNN’s Anderson Cooper playing with a handful of new summer-themed toys. The Lanes did not appear on the show, but Create A Castle was featured prominently.
“This is revolutionary,” Byrne said at one point during the show.
Create A Castle is a patent-pending system that uses a fill-from-the-top method, rather than the traditional method that often results in crumbled structures. The ease and quickness of the building, Lane said, better retains children’s attention. It also works with snow.
The exposure on “Live with Kelly and Ryan” launched what has been a whirlwind summer for the Lanes. Create A Castle is being sold at retailers on both coasts as well as in toy stores in Newtown, Litchfield and Pawling, N.Y. The famous Stewart Surfboard shop at Luguna Beach, Calif., is now carrying the product.
Lane said he has been contacted by Bloomingdale’s and is hopeful Create A Castle will be sold at the upscale department store by next summer.
“If we got into Bloomingdale’s, that’s a big deal,” he said.
Next weekend, the Lanes will be a vendor at the International Sand Sculpting Festival in Revere, Mass. The event is expected to attract about one million visitors. In September, they will be at the Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach, which draws about half a million visitors.
This weekend, Create A Castle will sponsor the first New Milford Parks and Recreation Sand Castle Competition at Lynn Deming Park, from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Prizes will be awarded in youth, teen and adult age groups. The entry fee is $3 for youth and teens and $5 for adults, which also covers entry into the park. Participants do not have to be from New Milford, but pre-registration is required at newmilfordrec.com
“We want people to get out and have some fun on the beach, whether they use Create A Castle or not,” Kevin Lane said. “It’s about family time.”
Public relations specialist Barry Schwartz has spent his career getting exposure for toys. He helped to launch iconic products such as Lego, Rubik’s Cube, Scruples, and laser tag.
Schwartz, who is based in New York City and president of Schwartz Public Relations, and Lane were introduced by a mutual friend and arranged a meeting in Stamford. Lane brought a Create A Castle kit and his own sand to the meeting. Schwartz was impressed with the product and got in contact with Byrne, a longtime source of his, to suggest he check out Create A Castle.
Byrne was so impressed with the product that he decided to include it on his next visit to the Live with Kelly and Ryan show.
“I pride myself on being able to identify something in a toy that makes it different than anything else,” Schwartz said. “This is the most innovative summer toy in a long time. (Launching a product) is about luck and timing ... and brilliance. It’s simple and clever.”
Lane called a Schwartz an “invaluable resource” in the early success of Create A Castle. The Lanes launched Create A Castle last summer and have sold about 1,500 kits so far. The best-selling kit has been the Pro Kit, which sells for $46.99 at createacastle.com.
In additional to forging retail relationships throughout the U.S., Lane is looking into expanding his product’s reach into Australia and France.
“We didn’t plan on this potentially being global in year one,” Lane said. “Sandcastles are a timeless traditional and this is a new twist on how to make them. Our culture, and other cultures, are fascinated with making sandcastles.”
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