After the Christmas holidays are over, the hunting industry kicks off the New Year with its trade shows. Between the Archery Trade Association show this week in Columbus, Ohio, and the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show next week in Las Vegas, more than two thousand companies will present their newest products to tens of thousands of retailers and the outdoor media.
The two gatherings represent something different to every business in attendance, but they may be most important for those newest to the game. More than just another occasion of business as usual, for them, it’s a chance to chase a dream.
For Charlie Thomas, of Starkville, president of Mississippi Decoys, Inc., this week’s event in Ohio lets him put the product he developed for himself – and the company he launched to support it – in front of the world.
Thomas and his father hunt turkeys in Neshoba County and, though they like to use decoys, he says the prospect of carrying turkey-sized molded plastic through the woods every morning was turning something fun into a serious chore, which led him to create his product.
His version of the better mousetrap puts a lifelike turkey photo onto an umbrella canopy and frame. The tip of the umbrella is then decorated with a molded plastic turkey head, and the handle of the umbrella is adapted to stick in the ground and hinge, so that the overall product looks like a strutting gobbler. Another offering from the company depicts a pair of hens in the same manner.
All in all, the full item weighs almost nothing and folds up to roughly the size of a 3 D-cell flashlight, and it’s easy to see how it could be just what someone might need to close the deal in the turkey woods. There’s no doubt it’s an improvement over the full sized molded plastic version when it comes to ease of transport.
Ultimately though, what new products like these represent is a new entrepreneur’s shot at the American Dream. For Thomas, it’s a chance to combine hunting, innovation and business, and it’s an opportunity to pursue something new. After many years running a division of an east Mississippi lumber company, the hunting product game may be just what he was looking for.