Making a Fortune out of Tears
The Story of a Child's Toy By Harold Gary
��IN 1904 Clarence White, of North Ben- nington, Vermont, was doing a large business in stereoscopic photographs and stereoscopes. He had more than four hundred agents on his list. Sales amount- ed to about half a million a year. Business was so good that a hundred thousand dol- lar-addition to the factory was made. Then, in 1905 the motion picture came. The stereoscopic photograph industry col- lapsed. Said the boys of the country : "Why should we look at stereoscopes when pictures?"
Clarence White started to hunt for something new to manufacture. Toys of various sorts were tried out. They had a good sale only during the months preced- ing Christmas.
Discouraging conditions continued until 191 5. In the Spring of that year Clarence VVhite came home one day to find his two and a half-year old son in tears and his mother discouraged. The youngster in- sisted on riding his toy cast-iron fire- department equipment to destruction. He had already smashed the hose cart. The tears were caused by his mother's refusal to allow him to break down the fire engine too.
"Never mind," said father. "I'll build you something that you can't break."
The next night Clarence White brought home a little three wheeled cart made of a board, an upright handle and wooden circles cut from another board.
But the trouble had only begun. The
���we can see motion
��youngster who lived next door had seen the cart and coveted it in the Biblical way, which means that he took it. The neigh- bor's wife brought it back in the evening and made the White boy happy again, but she explained also that her Crown Prince
would be un- controllable until he had one like it. He got his cart, too. So did half a dozen other young- sters who lived nearby . A home demand was created. White began to work at the problem of giving the boys of the nation carts like those he had made for Benning- ton.
He took out patents and made a dozen carts to be tried out as samples in New York. These were placed on the floor in a New York department store. While they were being unpacked one Saturday, a woman from Plainfield, New Jersey, saw them and carried one home. On the following Monday morning half a dozen Plainfield mothers trooped in for carts like the one they had seen. The entire shipment was sold during the day and the toy buyer put in an order for ten gross.
Bennington was on its industrial feet again. Mr. White's father is a splendid old-time mechanic. To-him was entrusted the task of providing machines that would turn out the little carts automatically. In a few months the output had risen to fifteen hundred carts a day. At no time has production caught up with demand. The first profits, amounting to one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, were put back in the business to buy machines. On September 4, 1916, production had increased to twenty-five hundred a day.
��The construction xif the little cart is simplicity itself, but it pleases the youngsters, so the production is rapidly approaching thirty-five hundred a day