The Coolest Products You’ve Never Heard Of

Good ideas can come to life via Kickstarter—but are they good enough for your store?
kickstarter piggy bank

Coming soon to your wholesale distributor’s must-stock list: Original Coffee House Jelly Beans, the brainchild of Jelly Belly inventor David Klein.

Or what about this? Whiskey Barrel Coffee, poised to “change the coffee experience through perfect melding of coffee and whiskey,” the company says.

These brands aren’t yet ready for public consumption. But they could be if they get the funding needed to mass-produce. They are among startup brands scraping for seed money on, a Web-based platform that helps entrepreneurs find resources and support to bring brands to market.

Since launching in April 2009, 10 million people have backed a Kickstarter project, $2.2 billion has been pledged and 98,828  projects have been successfully funded, some tailor-made for c-stores.

Whiskey Barrel Coffee, Denver, is 88% funded, with $22,218 pledged. And Jelly Belly’s Klein is hoping to raise $10,000 on  Kickstarter, which as the year began had generated $725.


Kickstarter product success rate --Kickstarter

C-stores seeking a local-market edge might see opportunity in fledgling products like these as they can help set them apart and build loyalty.

But it’s a Catch-22. Retailers want to see results before taking a chance. And it’s hard to build street cred without name recognition.

“McLane is our largest distributor and if they bring a new item in, we may try it,” says Reilly Robinson Musser, category manager for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Robinson Oil Corp./Rotten Robbie stores.

General-merchandise items might provide more experimental wiggle room. One that’s generating some intrigue is Shade Vise (Just Riding Along LLC), which helps prevent scratched lenses, broken frames and lost sunglasses for bicycle riders.

Now live on Kickstarter, Shade Vise takes less than two minutes to install and provides a long-term solution for riders of all skill levels. It has an SRP of $30.

Will it see the light of day in chains such as Rotten Robbie? “A lot of the general-merchandise items aren’t coming through [at this time],” says Musser. “I would rather wait and see if the items have demand before bringing it in, as our space is limited and I don’t want to get caught with something I can’t sell.”