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Fidget spinner craze sees parts prices skyrocket and companies hoarding supplies

Lisa Fickenscher, June 19, 2017 5:50PM Herald Sun

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FIDGET spinners flew onto the scene at the start of the year but their rapid rise to toy stardom has put pressure on the makers and sellers of the boredom busters.

Companies are scrambling to keep the whirling contraptions on shelves and high demand is now seeing a shortage in the supply of parts for the fidget spinners.

Companies are now claiming that they are being overcharged by other companies that make the essential ball-bearing mechanism, the key to making the gadgets spin.

When a lot of people want the same thing that there is not a lot of, companies are able to charge more for it and make more money. This is how limited edition items often become very valuable.

It has been reported that some companies who make the critical* ball-bearing pieces are charging far more for them than they used to, which was around 25 cents each.

Student Ryan and Christian showing off their skills. Picture: Roy VanDerVegt media_cameraStudent Ryan and Christian showing off their skills. Picture: Roy VanDerVegt

American company Zing, which sells two kinds of spinners called Spinzipz and Spinbladez, has even been asked to bring “bags of cash” to some factories in China just to make sure that its orders are filled, Zing vice president Josh Loerzel said.

“The factories are asking for cash upfront, and the price varies daily — anywhere from 50 per cent to 200 per cent more,” said Loerzel, whose company supplies big retailers including Target and Toys R Us.

In response, Zing has began hoarding its own stash of tiny mechanisms, buying up large quantities to make sure it doesn’t run out.

Students with their spinners. Photo Ric Frearson media_cameraStudents with their spinners. Photo Ric Frearson

Zing expects to sell up to five million spinners in the US this year and has already shipped about one million of them to its retail customers.

Almar Sales Co., which sells fidget spinners to large retailers, has also heard of demand for prices 100 per cent higher and payment upfront*, executive vice president Allen Ashkenazie said.

“Factories across China are using every opportunity to control prices by limiting and controlling supply of the original bearings,” he said.

US sports merchandise company Fanatics said sales of the spinners increased by 1000 per cent over the past week as sports fans scooped up spinners with their favourite team’s logo.

Elyse and Ava swimming in fidget spinners. Picture: Rob Leeson. media_cameraElyse and Ava swimming in fidget spinners. Picture: Rob Leeson.

“We see this trend continuing through the back-to-school season and possibly through the holidays,” Fanatics’ Jack Boyle said.

This article originally appeared on New York Post and was reproduced with permission.

GLOSSARY

critical : required
upfront: before the products are manufactured or shipper to the buyer

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CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

Activity 1. Fantastic or fad?

Fidget spinners have become very popular, very quickly.
When this happens with a product, it is common that after a while people become tired of them and their popularity fades. This is known as a ‘fad’.

Do you think that fidget spinners will still be as popular in a year from now, or do you think they are just a fad?

Plan and write an exposition to express your point of view.
Your writing should include an introduction that states your opinion, three supporting arguments with facts or examples and a conclusion.

Extension:

Have a think about other toys or gadgets that have been super popular for a while but that nobody seems to play with anymore. Make a list.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English

Activity 2: Money Makers

The sudden demand for fidget spinners is great for the manufacturers of the ball-bearing mechanisms used in the gadgets.
Not only are they selling more of them, they can also charge more because the demand for them outweighs the supply!

Let’s pretend you are the owner of a small factory that makes these ball bearings and see how your profits could be soaring.

1. If you started out selling 100 ball-bearing mechanisms a week for 25c each, how much money were you making?

2. If your sales doubled, how much would you be making then?

3. Suddenly, everybody wants a fidget spinner and you are selling 10,000 ball-bearing mechanisms a week! How much money are you making now?

4. So many companies want your ball bearings to make fidget spinners now that you can’t keep up with the demand! You decide to make the most of this and raise your price to 70c each. How much are you making now by selling 10,000 per week?

5. How much more money are you making now than you were when you started?

Extension:

Sports fans have been keen to buy fidget spinners with their team’s logo.

What other types of designs do you think would be popular?
Draw a picture of a fidget spinner that you think lots of people would like to buy.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Mathematics

VCOP ACTIVITY

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)


Support or distraction

Fidget spinners have quickly invaded our classrooms and they are not necessarily being for their intended purpose. They are supposed to help students to concentrate but teachers are complaining they are having a reverse effect.

What do you think?

Write an exposition explaining whether you believe the fidget spinner is a support or a distraction for the students in the classroom.

Extension:
Have a class debate against the teacher or split the class into two.

Time: allow at least 15 minutes to complete the task

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP

EXTRA RESOURCES

FIDGET SPINNERS WHIP UP A FRENZY


KIDS LURE IN BIG IDEAS


CIRCUS SWINGS INTO MELBOURNE

YUMS SHOWS APP-TITUDE

HIGH PRICE OF A HEALTHY LUNCH

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