Lakewood, NJ – Yankie Markowits had been practicing his yo-yo skills for two months; on Sunday it was time to show them off – all the twirling, swirling and whirling he could muster up.
“I came to learn new tricks and watch,” said Yankie, 11, of Lakewood.
Markowits and his friend, Dov Fink, 13, also of Lakewood, were among those who attended the Yo-Yo Fest 2012 at the Toys for Thought store here.
“I like selling skill toys; I think (they’re) something that teaches kids to practice, to persevere,” said Mike Lock, 25, store manager of eight years. “Nobody’s really good at the yo-yo unless they practice for hours and hours. The kids get self-esteem. They try hard at doing something, and gradually they improve, and you can actually see those improvements.”
For six straight months, Lock said he has seen a surge in yo-yo sales at his store. Usually he sees an increase in yo-yo sales for only two to six weeks during colder months among boys 10 to 13 years old.
Lock says from his experience, the yo-yo’s popularity is at its highest since 1998. Now, boys as young as 6 from the township are buying yo-yos, helping this year’s sales last from November well into the heat waves of July without showing signs of melting away.
“When a trend comes along, we do our best to promote it, to perpetuate it,” Lock said. “This was almost unfathomable, definitely unprecedented.”
Yo-yos move in fads in different areas, according to Gayle Ulrich, a representative of Yomega, a yo-yo manufacturing company based Seekonk, Mass. Outside the township, Ulrich, who was at the fest Sunday, said yo-yo sales are currently spiking in towns in various states across the country, including Pennsylvania, Texas and Arkansas.
“One kid can trigger it,” Ulrich said. “A popular child has got a yo-yo and the other kids see it.”
The Yomega Maverick and Dash yo-yos are the best-selling models at the toy store at $30 each. In the past, Lock said he would bring in six of those yo-yos just to have them on the shelf without any expectations to sell them. However, Lock estimated those two models account for 70 percent of the store’s yo-yo sales.
The store carries about 25 different yo-yo models ranging from $2 to $45 by four makers, including Yomega, Duncan and YoYoFactory. Yomega representatives previewed new company yo-yos and products not yet available while providing children with instructions on how to set up, adjust and care for their yo-yos to achieve maximum performance.
The fest also featured a special performance by Brett “Ooch” Outchcunis, a world-class yo-yoer and Yomega representative. He performed numerous tricks for children gathered around a tent set up outside of the store.
Source: THE ASBURY PARK PRESS