CHICAGO — Phil Sklar credits his time in Chicago for his vision to create the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum.
Sklar, 30, an avid bobblehead collector and seller, developed the concept from studying for his MBA at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management Downtown from 2011-13. He and fellow co-founder Brad Novak — also roommates — recently launched a 60-day Kickstarter seeking to raise $250,000 by Jan. 17. As of Monday morning, the Kickstarter has raised nearly $14,000.
They'd like to open the museum, which ideally will be located in Milwaukee, in 2016. Sklar said if sufficient funds aren't raised, a "scaled-down" museum will be created, likely in a suburban Milwaukee location.
"Kellogg's slogan while I was there was 'Think Bravely,' and the classes really pushed people to think outside the box — how can you give your business a sustainable competitive advantage," Sklar said. "The concept for the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum really positions us as the leader in this niche market."
Justin Breen says bobbleheads have been around for a surprisingly long time:
Sklar said the museum will have a significant representation of Chicago bobbleheads. His collection with Novak already includes 300 figures of Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox players. By the time the museum opens, Sklar expects to have at least 100 bobbleheads from each team, plus Chicago Police and Fire Department bobbleheads — enough for a "regional" exhibit in the museum.
"Being a national museum, we will truly have bobbleheads from everywhere; however, we will need to attract more visitors regionally and will therefore have more regional displays and exhibits," Sklar said.
According to bobbleheads.com, the history of the collectable dates back at least 150 years. The first sports bobblehead was represented by a 1920 New York Knicks basketball player, and Major League Baseball started producing the items for each team in the 1960s.
In the last 15 years, personalized bobbleheads have created a major market for the product for all sports teams and other genres. Earlier this year, a bobblehead of Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist sold for $2,900.
"Since I’ve been to so many games where bobbleheads have been given away, and I’ve seen the lines wrapping around stadiums and parking lots, I’m not as surprised by the interest anymore," said Sklar, noting that the Blackhawks' Brent Seabrook bobblehead doll given away on Dec. 14 will be sought by "people all over the world."
"But they will have to turn to eBay or Craigslist to get one," Sklar said. "The demand nearly always is greater than the supply, since most people that attend the game want to keep their bobbleheads. This is especially true with teams like the Blackhawks, where only about half of the fans at the game will get the bobblehead."
The museum is currently selling memberships. For more information, click here.
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