Reporting Aristea Brady
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Kids are now giving out less traditional stuff for Valentine’s Day — the new stuff is light on hearts and heavy on stickers, magnets and games. And even better, a Minnesota company is at the heart of the trend.
It looks like any other suburban office building, but in many ways, Mello Smello is the Valentine capitol of the world.
“This is new this year, our thumb wars tattoo valentines,” said Margaret Vergeyle, Mello Smello VP of marketing.
The Brooklyn Center company has manufacturing plants in Mora and Grand Rapids, making valentines that do “something.”
“Either it’s a treat, a tattoo, a magnet, a gel cling or it’s a special treatment,” Vergeyle said.
There’s barely any red, and hardly any hearts but they are all interactive, like the ones with etch art.
“The child that’s giving it puts the stylus in, puts the ‘to and from’ on the back and the child that recieves it can scratch off the black surface,” she said.
These capsules drop in water and expand into animal shapes. Or scratch-and-sniff valentines that smell like fruit and hearken back to the company’s roots.
“Our first product was scratch and smell stickers,” she said. “We started making those back in the 1980s.”
They branched out in the 90s, bringing novelties to a field that had been dominated by simple cards.
Now, they’re in every big retailer in the country — working towards next February and the cards kids will want.
“Our group is good at thinking like a young child,” said Jeff Murphy, executive vice president. “I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but our group is good at that.”
They say the key is scouting out trends that are hot with kids like owls this year. They think Eifel towers and french-art will be hot next year.