One little bear from Turlock could make a big splash on the Internet.
The Little Bear Chair, a children’s rocking chair designed to resemble a bear, will soon be sold through Facebook Gifts, and is currently available via Kickstarter.
“It really encourages kids to read,” creator Bob Reed said. “Every kid that has one absolutely loves them.”
The chair’s roots lie in 1988, when Reed’s father-in-law produced the first chair by hand as a gift for Reed’s son.
“My son used it all through growing up,” Reed said. “Now his daughter uses it.”
Reed, a cabinetmaker for nearly 20 years, decided to put his woodworking expertise to the test, and share the chair with the world.
“We wanted to build the Little Bear Chair and make it so other people could enjoy it,” Reed said.
The chair has been upgraded from the original design. A bookshelf was added underneath the seat, making it easy to “rock and read,” in Reed’s words.
The design has been simplified, too, able to be mass-produced and flat-packed for shipping across the country. The Baltic birch wood ensures the chair is extremely durable, supporting well above the weight of the average one-to-eight year old.
Already, the Little Bear Chair has been a local hit. A teacher at Julien Elementary School sees students fight over a Little Bear Chair which she uses as a reward, Reed said.
But the chair could become a nationwide hit, after being picked up by Facebook for the social media site’s new Facebook Gifts program.
“It’s a huge opportunity to be involved with a big company,” Reed said.
Facebook Gifts, which is currently available only to a small set of Facebook users but will be rolled out to all users in November, builds off the site’s existing birthday, anniversary, and holiday reminder functionality. With Facebook Gifts, users can purchase presents through Facebook, with only a click or two.
A Little Bear Chair found its way into the hands of a Facebook employee, Reed said, who had purchased cabinetry from Reed. Facebook employees went gaga over the chair, and approached Reed about selling the chair through the site.
Through Facebook Gifts, Reed could see tens or hundreds of chairs ordered each day. Reed expects to hire 10 to 15 new employees, just to produce the chairs locally.
But, for now, Reed is attempting to build up an inventory.
Facebook suggested Reed go to Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website, to launch the business. Via Kickstarters, project backers can financially support the project, in exchange for rewards.
In practice, Kickstarter acts largely as a pre-order website; local backers can receive a Little Bear Chair for as little as $125 pledged. But should a project’s goal not be met, backers are not charged, and the project creator receives nothing.
Reed hopes to raise $25,000 via Kickstarter to purchase supplies, machinery to ease the hole-boring process, and to have custom boxes made for shipping.
In just five days, the Little Bear Chair has raised $1,281, from 20 backers. But should backers continue at that rate, the chair is trending only toward 26 percent of its goal – and a failed Kickstarter – per tracking site Kicktraq.
Reed said he hoped local Turlockers would kick in and preorder a chair, to help the local company take off.
“We’re just trying to get up and going,” Reed said.
For more information, visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/889301997/little-bear-chair/