Pen Maker’s Trial by Wal-Mart Continues

PenAgain

Ever wonder what it’s like to get a product into Wal-Mart? The Wall Street Journal has been following the story of Pacific Writing Instruments Inc., of San Mateo, California in their quest to reach the Holy Grail of retailing: Wal-Mart’s shelves.

For the past month, the creators of PenAgain, a wishbone-shaped writing instrument, have lived and breathed this mantra: 30-day trial, 500 stores, 85% product sell-through.

Meet those rough terms set by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and PenAgain might one day sit next to Bic and Paper Mate inside the stores of the world’s largest retailer. Fail, and the 34-year-old entrepreneurs, Colin Roche and Bobby Ronsse, would be blowing the biggest break so far for their five-year-old product.

Now, the sales trial is over, the verdict is in … and the PenAgain will stay in Wal-Mart, at least for now. The retail giant has ordered more product for 150 U.S. stores in areas where trial sales were particularly robust. Now comes the next test: to see if PenAgain can survive the summer doldrums until back-to-school shoppers start flooding the stationery and office-supply aisles in August. If so, a larger reorder and distribution to more of Wal-Mart’s 6,500 stores around the globe might be in the offing.


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