As dusk settles in, slowly giving way to the night, you stroll through a cool, quiet Lodi park. Suddenly, without warning, a glowing object flies past your head. Then, what seems to be an other-worldly orb comes at you!
Relax. It's probably just the Glow and Throw UFO Flying Disc created by Lodi native Bryan Stamos.
Back in the '90s, Stamos had the idea to attach glow-sticks, originally used by the U.S. military, to a child's flying disc toy. The finished product was a customizable flyer that took on the appearance of various shapes when in flight.
He patented the idea, but because of a lack of funds to pursue the project, it sat on the shelf.
In October of 2007, Stamos' lawyer contacted him to let him know the maintenance fees on the patent were coming due. This time, he decided to make the most of his creation.
Stamos researched glowstick manufacturers on the Internet. After checking into many different companies, he finally found a reputable and reliable China-based producer.
The order was placed and soon 10,000 Glow and Throw UFOs landed on Stamos' doorstep. The shipment arrived in time for Stamos to attend a Pomona trade show and display the toy. He picked up three sales representatives who loved the idea and have sold it in 15 states. Since then, he's procured the services of more reps and sales in 29 more states. But all that was easier than getting onto the mother ship: Wal-Mart.
The eager entrepreneur that he is, Stamos decided that the mega-chain would be a good outlet to sell the glow-in-the dark toy.
"It took five months. I had to give presentations for five store managers, and then another one for the district manager," Stamos said. After those first contacts and approval of all six managers, Stamos had to send a vendor packet and the product itself to Wal-Mart's corporate office and patiently await final approval.
Final approval came and Stamos started making deliveries. There are 12 Wal-mart stores in the local district, including stores in Lodi, Stockton, Manteca, Tracy, Modesto, Elk Grove and Sacramento.
In that time, Stamos' sales reps have sold the spinning saucer throughout the nation to specialty and novelty stores, and it can even be purchased online. Stamos has sites like www.thinkgeek.com, www.burningman.com and www. thespacestore.com selling the toy.
How to get your own Glow and Throw UFOThe Glow and Throw UFO Flying Disc is available at 12 area Wal-Mart stores from Modesto to Sacramento.
"It's not an expensive product. Even though the economy is slow, people are still looking for gifts and gadgets," Stamos said. The Glow and Throw disc can be purchased online for $10.95, though Stamos said retailers such as Wal-Mart typically sell it for $5.95 to $8.95 with replacement glow stick packs retailing for about $4.
Stamos also pointed out that it's the only flying, glow-in-the-dark toy on the market that can be customized. Plus, he said, the glow sticks can be worn like a bracelet or necklace.
As Stamos began test marketing the invention on eBay.com, the tagline for the product came through the comment of a site visitor who really liked the toy:
"Some guy said, 'Cool alien technology, dude,'" Stamos said.