Prairie Village News 6/20/17

Faron Wahl, Manager

Our Prairie Village gift shop sees a great deal of activity, particularly during school tours and on busy camping weekends. Bev, our shop manager, works thoughtfully to stock a wide array of items to suit the visiting interests of many. There’s more available in this cozy store than many realize.

We’ve got several high-quality branded items, such as logo wear, coffee mugs, and village magnets. A staple of classic toys hearkening back to earlier days also remains importantly in the mix, such as wooden trains, flutes, and whistles, rabbit’s feet, puzzles, and leather mini-purses.

I wrote last week about the importance of keeping a balance between historic education and modern offerings. And as I noted earlier, if we want our youth to be interested in joining us here, we need to feed them history while meeting them where they’re at. So, it’s good to stock a couple of hot items that click with kids currently.

Enter the fidget spinner.

For the uninitiated, a fidget spinner is a flat, drink coaster-sized gizmo made of two or three rounded blades that spin around a ball-bearing center. They come in every color imaginable and run in price nationwide from a few dollars for a basic model to several hundred for pristine units.

What does a fidget spinner do? Not a lot, frankly. You spin it between two fingers or balance it on one, or you can spin it on the table or floor. That’s about it. And they’re all the rage.

YouTube is replete with videos explaining how to do a handful of additional little tricks with your fidget. I carry a sample spinner from the gift shop, and with a bit of practice just before my head hit the pillow on a few recent nights, I figured out how to spin it on my nose and occasionally toss it from finger to finger mid-spin, but that’s the extent of my handiwork.

We have ours priced at five dollars apiece. They hit our shelves in May after Bev ordered three dozen of them as a trial, thanks to the prompting of her granddaughter. We sold the entire shipment in less than 48 hours. A second order was placed, this time for a full gross of them, and that stock has already sold down considerably. Crazy.

According to Money Magazine, the phenomenon peaked in May, after a sudden and furious national catch-on. Fascinatingly, it appears the blazing little devices were invented back in 1990, but pretty much disappeared about ten years ago after little public spread. They have long been marketed toward folks with focus or distraction challenges, but for reasons the toy market can’t explain, they suddenly caught on as the hot ticket “everyday carry” toy in 2017, and sales went wild.

Fox Business last month quoted a representative of The Toy Insider: “Right now we are in the midst of the biggest, fastest moving trend that I have ever seen in the toy industry”. While the trend appears to now be slowing, a quick search for “fidget spinner” on eBay this week netted me 470,795 results.

Are we trying to attract kids to the village by serving as the Lake County outlet for the latest in trends, gadgets, or smart phone accessories while promoting our historic preservation mission? Nope. But it’s amazing how excited young people get when they discover we aren’t exactly out of touch here. In fact, the whole village picture may look just a bit more valid to them when they discover that rather than a drab stroll of boredom, we’re really kind of a cool place they can relate to.

Come out and join us for our fourth annual variety show Sunday night at 7:00 in the Opera House. We’ll showcase a relaxed, fun evening of entertainment. And Railroad Days will follow one week later, July 1-2, featuring all things railroading, food, demonstrations, and a SD railroad historic presentation.

If you haven’t yet bought your tickets for the Holy Rocka Rollaz concert that same Saturday, July 1, go watch their brief promo video at I dare you to sample this Minneapolis 50’s-rock trio online and not crave a concert seat, which we still have available by calling 256-3644.

We look forward to you joining us for these upcoming events. Get here before 5:00, and you can buy yourself a fidget spinner to boot. That is, if we have any left.