Knork Flatware expands Bed Bath & Beyond presence to 650 stores

WICHITA — Newton-based Knork Flatware has landed a deal to sell its products in 650 Bed Bath & Beyond stores.

“It’s obviously going to impact sales substantially for us,” Knork president Tom Carson says. “It’s probably our largest retail account for a box store.”

The company began working with the chain in 2008.

“Bed Bath & Beyond started as a test,” says Knork vice president of marketing Lacy Simon.

Initially, the flatware that features its signature knife and fork in one utensil — a Knork — was in only the Wichita Bed Bath & Beyond stores.

“It’s just built from there,” Simon says. “The product sold very well.”

The number grew to 200 before jumping to 650, though Carson notes there are many more Bed Bath & Beyond stores than that, and he’d like to be in all of them. Knork is on the chain’s bridal registry as well.

“That’s done very well for us, too,” Carson says.

“I like to get Knork anywhere there’s heavy bridal,” Simon says.

There are 200 Dillard’s stores that sell Knork.

“Right now, Dillard’s is exploring the opportunities to expand, and that might be a possibility for spring 2013,” Simon says. “Macy’s is looking at a test for next fall.”

Target and Kohl’s also carry Knork online but not in their stores. Simon says Knork’s extensive manufacturing process makes it more expensive than other flatware lines sold in those stores.

There are now about 50 Knork products and $2 million in annual sales for the company, which started in 2004 with one product that Wichita resident Mike Miller created.

“It was kind of gadgetry,” Carson says. “A fork that cuts like a knife.”

The issue was “just overcoming some of the consumer skeptics of the new kind of unfamiliar product,” Simon says.

“It was quite a struggle at the beginning.”

It sometimes still is.

“It is truly such an experiential product,” Simon says. She says the goal is always to put the product into someone’s hands.

“You’ve really got to put it in your hands to experience the functionality of it,” Carson says.

Starting out, Carson says the company sold direct to other businesses.

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Unified Party Bus sells to Spot’s Party Bus

WICHITA — Ivan Moore, who founded the party bus business in Wichita, has sold his Unified Party Bus to Spot’s Party Bus.

“I’ve been doing it eight and a half years,” Moore says. “It’s been a phenomenal ride.”

He’d planned to sell the company a long time ago.

“I told myself … I would sell it when I got married.”

That didn’t happen. So then Moore told himself he’d sell the business when he had his first child. That didn’t happen either.

Now, he’s expecting his second child next month. The timing is right to leave, he says.

“Things aren’t quite as exciting as they once were,” Moore says. Also, he says he wanted “to get out when I was at the top of my game.”

Moore started with one bus and grew the business to nine buses.

Spot’s owner Mike Miller, who owns the cable service company Mill-Tel, opened his business with four buses in June.

“We felt that there was a big enough demand that we could get a share of the market and make it work.”

Miller has been running out of buses on the popular weekend nights, but he’s working on a fifth Spot’s bus and now also has eight Unified Party Bus buses.

“It’s really going to help us, we believe, gain market share.”

He says Moore had a strong corporate business for weekday rentals.

“We had not cultivated those relationships yet.”

Miller is keeping the Unified name on those buses.

“We don’t want to change what Wichita’s used to,” he says. “We don’t want to change what’s not broken.”

He’s keeping the Spot’s name, too, because he wants to take the brand to other markets.

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