Asset manager by day, game inventor by night.
That’s the life of Richmonder Clay Hilbert, whose tabletop parlor game Hookum has taken off since hitting store shelves this year.
“It has far exceeded our expectations,” Hilbert said. “We had planned to get rid of the first container load in the first year. Within seven months, we sold out.”
That first shipment contained 2,400 units of the game. Now Hilbert said he is waiting on the next shipment of 10,000 units to arrive from the manufacturer in China — 2,500 of which are on back order.
At a retail price of $39.99, that has generated a nice chunk of change for the company. Hilbert said they are on the cusp of turning a profit.
“There were a lot of sunk costs up front,” Hilbert said. “After we sell these back-ordered ones, we will break even and start making money.”
The game is a scaled-down version of the Bimini ring game played in the Caribbean, in which the objective is to swing a ring suspended from a beam onto a hook. Hilbert said they currently developing an even smaller mini-Hookum, as well as a slightly larger model with tailgate parties in mind. Learn more about how to play in a previous BizSense story.
Hilbert, an asset manager for Davenport & Company, co-founded a game company named 5Mississippi with a friend, Joe Parrish. David Arias, president of Swimways in Virginia Beach, is also a partner. Hookum is the company’s first product.
Hilbert said the majority of sales have been through retail stores, primarily in the Midwest, where the sales company they hired to push the product have the most connections. It is available locally at The Toy Center on Patterson Avenue and RoundTableGifts.com. Dillards department stores will be carrying the game this holiday season, he said.
“We hope to keep scaling up and getting in more retailers. My goal would be to explore some alternative avenues, like college book stores for example. I’m also interested in hospitality tents at events like NASCAR and football games,” Hilbert said.
The game has at least one celebrity fan spreading the word, thanks to Hilbert’s friend Andy Rothenberg.
“Somehow he got it in the hands of Andy Roddick, the tennis player. He loves it and mentioned it on Twitter, so that got us some good free press,” Hilbert said.