"Rainbow Loom" is a hands-on bracelet craft kit currently selling like gangbusters in toy stores in Red Bank, Aberdeen and Fair Haven. A throwback kind of toy that suddenly has huge appeal with both girls and boys and their parents.
And after the economic sobriety following Hurricane Sandy, small business owners can't help but be grateful for this "hot" toy that keeps giving.
Toy store owners have been selling the $16.99 loom kit, and additional bands (glow in the dark, glitter, neon and scented) and jeweled charms steadily since spring break. Sales are expected to stay strong up to Christmas.
On Thursday at the Hobby Shop in Aberdeen, store owner Arlene Schutzer stood surrounded by 980 kits stacked on shelves reaching to the ceiling and said the store is selling "between 80-90" kits every day. Nearby, a dozen kids, including Holmdel's Jason Sparkes, 10, and Lola Sparkes, 7, bent over Rainbow Loom creations trying out new ideas with store employees, one of two sessions offered on this day.
Parents love it because the loom requires kids to tune out TV and concentrate on manipulating plastic strands in sequences to make the twisty bracelets. Boys are into it too, some making wristbands in team colors. Adults are making bags and iPad cases, said Schutzer, who is going to offer a parents-only workshop.
"It's kind of heartwarming," said Rosanne Zappoli, manager of ToyMasters in Red Bank, which has been selling the loom for the past month and a half. On the best days, the store sells over 120 Rainbow Looms a day. "It is the craze right now. The phone does not stop. It's wonderful for kids because it's old fashioned 'arts and crafts' -- not an electronic game, with their eyes glued to the screen and the thumbs going."
Demand was so high that Margaret Spicer, owner of Distinctive Toys in Fair Haven, had a waiting list of more than 50 people at one time. She says she feels good about selling the loom.
"I had a mom in yesterday who said it is the first time umpteen years that her daughters are getting along," she said. "Each has a loom. They are sharing ideas on patterns and talking to each other."The toy is also bringing out the entrepreneurs.
Lola Sparkes said she pocketed $30 after hawking her creations at her mother's Manhattan office yesterday.
What is she going to do with it?
"I'm going to spend it on more Rainbow Loom stuff," she said.
We'd love to see your creations! Tag #RainbowLoomNJ on Instagram to share your photos.