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Elf Magic elves have new baggage

Last year, thousands of Elf Magic elves visited children's homes across the country and helped spread the warmth and mystery that's so often associated with Christmas. Even more Elf Magic elves are expected to travel from the North Pole in 2010, and to make their visits as comfortable as possible, Santa has arranged to ship the elves' suitcases to his favorite stores across the country, so they'll be waiting for the elves when they arrive.

Elf Magic suitcasesElf Magic suitcases
Visitors to the ASTRA show June 14-16, in Providence, R.I., can stop by booth 928 to see the new suitcases. The Elf Magic tradition, which began more than 50 years ago in the childhood home of Elf Magic's Chief Elf Officer, Piper Worthington, brings magical elves into children's homes during the Christmas season. It's been a retail success since Worthington started the business 20 years ago.

 

It begins when a child writes a letter to Santa asking for an elf to come visit. The child then leaves out the elves' favorite snack, crackers and ice water, to lure the elf to visit. Then, a 10-inch plush elf magically appears in the child's home between Thanksgiving and the days leading up to Christmas. Each elf arrives with magic North Pole snowflakes that, when dusted on the elf at bedtime, allow the elf to magically come to life. The elves are very playful and curious at night and embark on all kinds of adventures, known as elfcapades, which include toilet papering the Christmas tree, cleaning the dishes or hiding in the freezer because the cold temperature reminded them of their North Pole home. When the child awakes, they are surprised and delighted to see the evidence of the elf's playful late night adventures and cannot wait to see where the elf might be hiding.

Retail stores enter the picture as a sort of travel agent for the elves. Since much of the success and excitement of Elf Magic is attributed to the mystery surrounding the elves' appearance, stores can't just sell the plush elves. Instead, they sell elf "travel tickets" from the North Pole, which can be purchased by the parents. Stores sneakily give parents the elf so they can concoct a fun way for the elves to appear after the child writes to Santa asking for an Elf visitor. Stores also sell elf accessories including Magical Reindeer, and elf outfits, also known as "elfits." Elf Magic also offers Elf Magic Memories, a keepsake journal to chronicle holiday memories, as well as Elf Magic ornaments to decorate your tree.

New for 2010, parents will be able to purchase from ASTRA retailers an elf suitcase. The suitcase contains everything an elf needs to ensure a comfortable stay and safe return to the North Pole. The suitcase, which comes with a luggage tag and passport, will retail for $24 and clearly doubles as a mobile elf playhouse. Inside the suitcase, children will find a closet to hang "elfits," a window seat for the elf to sit and a pouch filled with stickers for the suitcase and passport! The suitcase provides a huge enhancement for play value and will greatly expand the possibilities for retail sales.

Stores will also be offered the North Pole Award Winning Book/DVD combo set, "Elf Magic, The Story of a Timeless Christmas Tradition." The book is beautifully illustrated in watercolor and comes with a fully animated DVD that includes four new Elf Magic sing-along songs, adding to the Elf Magic tradition.

Though 2010 marks Elf Magic's first time exhibiting at ASTRA, the company has been arranging the transportation of elves from the North Pole for over 20 years and has strong relationships with toy, home décor, gift and stationery stores across the country. Despite the fact that it takes some careful wording and finesse to keep the Magic in Elf Magic, stores report that Elf Magic is one of their fourth quarter best-sellers, and they reorder year after year.

One stationery and specialty gift store in Miami, Paper Boutique, sold a mind boggling 2,016 elf "travel tickets" in 2009 alone. Factoring in the Elf Magic accessories they sold, Paper Boutique had more than $68,000 of retail Elf Magic sales in 2009.

"The Elves from Elf Magic are the No. 1 selling product in our store. Period. Obviously the Elves are seasonal, but in actuality we sell them steadily all year long," said Sara George, Paper Boutique owner. "Elf Magic Elves make our store a destination during the holiday season and subsequently all year long. They are in no way to be confused or categorized as an ‘incidental' sale item."

Bean Head Toys in Sandy Springs, Ga., sold more than $11,000 of Elf Magic goods in 2009, reported owner Chris Lowe. About 90% of the store's Elf Magic sales are due to word of mouth and 10% of sales can be attributed to seeing the Elf accessories or travel tickets in stores. "I always have my elf sticking out of my back pocket as a conversation starter and people ask me questions or kids spot her," said Lowe. "They will see the accessories and ask about them and the sale is easy."

All Elf Magic elves are picked up by Santa on Christmas Eve to help him deliver toys, and then return to the North Pole to start preparations for the next Christmas. A child's elf always "magically" returns each year to help celebrate Christmas, as long as the child writes to Santa asking for their elf to visit.

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