A note on safety
Complying with Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations for children's products is a necessity, but it can be complicated depending on the item you're selling. With stuffed animals, things are a bit more clear-cut. "The good news about promoting with stuffed plush toys is that there is no gray area on our products' intended use," Socci advised. "Everyone knows stuffed toys are intended for children under 14 years old, no matter how they're decorated or where they're distributed."
Even so, be sure to find a supplier that has proper safety protocols in place, to avoid any potential hang-ups later on. "We have recently been an early adopter of PPAI's Product Safety Compliance Program," Socci said. "Every product we manufacture is independently product-safety tested by a CPSIA-accredited testing laboratory and we publish all of those reports on our website."
Where to sell
There are a number of major markets for sports ball sales. Jason Broadbent, national accounts manager for Cleveland-based Galaxy Balloons, pointed to education, financial, and restaurants and bars, along with several others. "Sport balls are used in a variety of ways, from throw outs at games, rallies and parades or as a fun trade show handout," he said. "Other popular uses are for fundraising, autograph signing, sports banquets, clinics and camps, alumni events, book stores, etc."
A case study
Broadbent gave an example of a successful sports ball promotion, where a restaurant partnered with a local high school's booster club to give away 100 miniature footballs at home football games. "The restaurant offers a limited-time coupon printed on one side of the ball," he explained. "The purple footballs with gold imprint match the school's colors. The footballs are thrown out at the game by [the school's] cheerleaders." Broadbent noted that the restaurant sees 30 to 35 customers redeem the coupons after each game.