A Bright Future
Infinity Lights, Light Tunes
HQ: Twin Falls, Idaho
States Doing Business In: All but 4, many states have 15-plus operators
Mission: To be a leader in the specialty retail and wholesale market, to offer exceptional customer service, to offer unique, innovative and quality products at a fair price.
Motto: “We believe in Retail-tainment,” says Campbell.
Strength: The connection we have made with our operators. That’s what drives us and builds our future, says Atkinson.
Amber Atkinson, Managing Director of Event Sales, headquartered in Twin Falls, Idaho, is lighting up sales for specialty retailers far and wide.
Infinity Lights are self-assemble lightshades made up of interlocking quadrilaterals. One set can be assembled in over 20 different shapes and is available in 17 different colors. Since their introduction over two short years ago, Infinity Lights are now carried by over 300 mall cart operators throughout the country and abroad. Add in the recent debut of sound, and the specialty retail forecast is, well, infinite.
Atkinson is no stranger to the world of specialty retail. Nor are any of her wholesale employees. “There is no one who works in our wholesale division who hasn’t retailed; who hasn’t experienced 14-hour shifts during the holiday season,” she says. “With this understanding comes the willingness to go the extra mile for our wholesale customers, and the knowledge that everything is extremely time-sensitive,” Atkinson adds.
Event Sales was founded in Boise, Idaho in 1995 by Cortney Campbell. Since then, through specialty retail programs, Event Sales has sold over twenty products, including garden gadgets, cosmetics and household items.
But Infinity Lights outshone all others from the moment Atkinson and Campbell first laid eyes on them. Because the product is customized in both shape and color, and because the customization process produces a stop-dead-in-your-tracks mall demo and because the lights weren’t yet in America, the potential for success was huge. Here was an opportunity to be a leader in the specialty retail market with a product that was appealing to all demographics. And they took it.
“We did our own short-run marketing test. From the first day, it was obvious it was going to be a winner,” says Atkinson, who started with the company as a cart operator more than seven years ago.
Specialty retailers—often operating more than one RMU—started getting in on the concept. Today, Infinity Lights can be found all across the U.S. and in Canada, South America and Australia.
No matter how large the company grows, though, Atkinson is dedicated to maintaining one to two dozen company carts to stay plugged into the world of specialty retail. “I don’t feel we can be effective for wholesaling if we are not retailing,” she says.
By being a leader in the market, Atkinson has had the ability to create a following. “It’s an Infinity Light family. We make it hip and cool and fun. We spend a lot of money on branding,” says Atkinson. “We try to involve our customers in our marketing. Some of the greatest suggestions come from them,” she says. In 2013, marketing plans included a nationwide television campaign. This will repeat in 2014 due to its success.
Versatility in lights
The company’s Facebook page showcases a number of creative uses an Infinity Light provides. Little girls holding duck lights, disco lights, Fourth of July bang in red, white and blue lights, the list goes on.
Customization is an integral part of the success story. Every customer becomes a lightshade designer, choosing both shape and colors. The sphere is the most popular shape, but with 19 others in a host of colors, Infinity Lights can be designed to match any style of décor, be it contemporary, shabby chic, retro or a little girl’s nursery.
At $30 a pop for the smallest size, multiples become an affordable option (the largest light sells for $60). Buy more sets and the possibilities are infinite. Hence the name, Infinity Lights.
There are five sets of sizes in the Infinity Light family: an extra small sphere measures 7 inches, small 10 inches, medium 13 inches, large 17 inches and extra-large 22 inches. Infinity Lights can be used indoors or out. They are made from a lightweight, high-quality polypropylene material that is heat resistant, durable and easy to clean. Lightshades come in both shiny and matte finishes.
Infinity Lights are also popular in commercial settings, making up approximately 10-20% of total sales, depending on location. Commercial uses include cafés, skating rinks and ice cream shops.
LED lights offer Infinity Light customers an even bigger bang for their buck, and offer retailers an easy upsell (they retail for $20). Replacing a standard-size light bulb with a LED gives customers the ability to cycle through 16 different colors. “There are speed settings to control when the color changes. It can be slow or fast,” says Atkinson. The slower the speed, the calmer the effect. Colors can be faded in intensity, as well. There is also the option to choose one color alone.
White is the most popular lightshade color for a number of reasons. LED lights work their magic most effectively by reflecting color onto a neutral background. White is the perfect neutral paired between louder colors when designing a multi-color lightshade. And lastly, “We have plenty of customers of a mature age,” says Atkinson, who prefer white or neutral tones for a classier setting.
What’s new? The sound of success
As of January, Infinity Lights can now be seen and heard by way of the company’s latest introduction: Light Tunes (MSRP $80). By replacing a traditional light bulb with an LED light with speaker, quality sound is produced. Light Tunes connects with any Bluetooth compatible device and works in any standard light socket.
Light Tunes will be the leader in the specialty retail market and offer Infinity Light repeat customers something totally new, says Atkinson.
Also new for 2014, fun and funky prints. About a dozen different prints, such as animal patterns, were released.
The common area shines
Infinity Lights are carried in both specialty retail and brick-and-mortar venues, but the advantage for specialty retail—where they truly outshine all others—is in the assembly. No other venue provides this. And in the assembly is, of course, the crowd-drawing demonstration.
Infinity Light sets come with 30 interlocking pieces and a cord. Customers have the choice to buy the sets and take them home. But 95% of customers ask to have the unit assembled in a specific way. And why not? Everything is done for them, the way they want it done. Customers are drawn over by the lights, and then stay to see the creation of a customized piece of art in less than three minutes, for as little as $30.
“The demo draws huge attention,” says Atkinson. “Retailers start explaining the lights and start assembling a shape. People stop dead in their tracks. It’s like a magic show,” she says. Retailers increase their sales by building Infinity Lights in as many different shapes as they can. The more they educate themselves on the different shapes that can be made, the better, says Atkinson.
Customization works well for retailers catering to their mall demographics, as well. In other words, displaying Infinity Lights crafted from local sports’ team colors, local high school colors, and so on, will add to their popularity.
Specialty retail is a great venue not only because of its demo-drawing power but because if a retailer creates a year-round, reliable presence, customers know just where to go when they are ready for another light, or to refer a friend, says Atkinson. Infinity Lights creates the brand, retailers create consistency. Couple the two and repeat sales are a guarantee.
Retailers can get started with Infinity Lights and Light Tunes for less than $1,300. Infinity Lights offers same-day shipping if an order is placed by noon. In other words, retailers can be up and running at a moment’s notice. Startup packages include lights of various sizes and colors, cords, Bluetooth speakers
“In 2013, we offered a buyback program. Retailers could ship back any unsold product and we refunded their money. It gave them a safety net. We will continue that program for our Specialty Retail program only for 2014,” says Atkinson.
She is happy to assist retailers find a location. The concept is especially welcome at shopping centers because it is not a pitch item, says Atkinson. “People walk right up. The lights draw them like moths to a flame. The feedback from the malls has been great,” she says.
Once up and running, there is still plenty of support. “Customers can call and ask for help if sales are slow. I will coach them through it, ask what they are hearing at the cart, ask if they can send pictures of their display, ask if they are the ones working the cart, etc. I am very honest,” says Atkinson. “From the very beginning, if I don’t think they should go into a certain mall, I will tell them. We want them to be successful,” she says.
“We also have a road crew of 6-8 doing trade shows around the country. If the timing works out, our crew can train on-site at the retailer’s location, as well,” says Atkinson.
One step ahead
Retailers must sell only Infinity Lights and Light Tunes. “We have special pricing for mall cart operators. They must be dedicated to our product alone to get that pricing,” says Atkinson.
As with most products, competition exists. “With any item, knock-offs will be produced,” says Atkinson. “When it comes to our total package of products and services we offer, though, we stand alone,” she says. The quality of people in our office keeps us one step ahead, adds Campbell.
“We have never experienced the growth we have in the last
few years. We went from a small warehouse to two large ones, from a three-desk office to a nine-desk office. Our customers know we put 100% into getting things we need,” says Atkinson.
“Amber has a map behind her desk with all of the states we are in, and within those states, the operators that retail there. If I asked Amber about each operator, how their season went, and one or two things about them personally, she could tell me,” says Campbell.