Courtenay man enjoying many happy returns
A 27-year-old Courtenay man's idea to make return tops brighter is now being sold around the world.
Tyrone Larson created GlowMods, which make return tops — commonly known by the name brand Yo-yo — glow as they spin, and give off a circle of light to spectators.
"This outer rim here, I decided to pop a glow stick in it," Larson said as he demonstrated on his return top, adding he first tried the idea at a competition in December. "So I popped a couple glow sticks… and threw it and everyone was just like — next thing I knew 150 people gathered around."
Caribou Lodge return top company owner Chris Mikulin, who was there at the time, snapped a photo and posted it on his blog, and from there things grew — fast.
"It was getting extreme amounts of feedback, people were going bananas, and next thing I knew I was scrounging some money together and I purchased 60,000 glow sticks," said Larson, adding that was the smallest order he could get from a factory. "It cost me just about $5,000. It took me a while to get the money together and everyone thought I was crazy."
Initially, he sold GlowMods on eBay and was doing well, but after a suggestion from Mikulin, decided to sell them wholesale to return top stores. He started by calling YoYoExpert, which is based in the United States, and the store said yes.
"So I made some up, and I'm selling them in a store, and the buzz is starting to grow, and then I get contacted by more stores, a store in the U.K. and a store in Malaysia and a store in the Czech Republic, in Prague, and those are like the epicentres in Europe — yo-yoing's way bigger in Europe than it is here," explained Larson.
He made a Facebook page for GlowMods about three weeks ago, and since then he's had nearly 4,000 'likes' and was contacted by four more stores around the world.
Although Larson is happy with how business is going, he plans to keep GlowMods as a side venture, noting that return tops are his passion and a focus on money could ruin that.
Larson started playing with return tops only about a year-and-a-half ago after he watched his friend Jason Kirsch take it up.
"He came over, he was almost hitting himself in the face, and I'm like, 'Get that away from my TV' and like a month later he came and I saw his, just hand-eye co-ordination go through the roof so that's what attracted me most of all," explained Larson.
After Larson started, he was quickly hooked and he attends competitions, which he described as intense because there are literally thousands of possible tricks.
Right now, he's looking forward to being a judge at the 2012 Canadian National Return Top Championship in Calgary in mid-August.
Although Larson laughed when asked how much of a return top community there is in the Comox Valley, and answered it's likely just him and two of his friends, he wants to spread his love of return tops to people around here.
He just created a Facebook page called Comox Valley Return Top Club to make it easier for people interested in return tops to connect. Larson pointed out anyone can join, regardless of skill level, noting he's taught kids in the past and, like Larson, they really seemed to enjoy it.
"It's definitely one of the greatest things I've ever found," said Larson. "It's definitely going to be a part of my life forever — that's for sure."
For more information about GlowMods, search for GlowMod GlowThrows on Facebook.