LAS VEGAS — Eleven days ago Jeanne Calhoun was at her home in Kerrville, Texas paging through a magazine when she saw an ad for the Electronic Retailing Association's 10th Annual Conference & Exhibition's New Product Showcase.
Calhoun, a widow who describes herself as “slightly past” the age of being a senior citizen, had been trying to get her product, “Time Savers” — ready made price tags for garage sales and thrift shops — on one national retail account for nearly a year without success.
After seeing the ad, which promised an infomercial and help with product placement for the winning product, Calhoun made the call and found out that there were only two spots open and a long list of people already ahead of her.
“They said they'd have to choose based on the product, and I think they chose right,” Calhoun said from her table at the ERA convention. “I retired in 1992 and started working at a thrift shop. But it was just last year when I invented the product. My doctor said I had arthritis from writing so many labels at the store, so I went home and put the labels in the typewriter… my hands hurt a lot less after.”
Over the course of a year, Calhoun has succeeded in getting the tags into 16 stores in Texas but has run into hurdles trying to get it into national distribution with major retailers like K-Mart or Walgreen's.
“I tell them, what would people want — labels they have to write up or ones already printed for nearly the same price?” Calhoun said. “They think it’s a good product but they are stuck in their ways, they say they have been selling the blank labels for so long that they don't want to rock the boat with the other companies.”
Now, Calhoun sits on the brink of fulfilling her dream, one in which she estimates she has already invested $10,000. Today at noon Calhoun will compete in a live demonstration against 11 other people with the hope of winning a national infomercial and perhaps a national retail contract.
“If I win I will be on top of the world,” she said. “I have worked very hard to get this far with the product and I think if I get the exposure through DRTV I just might get that one national contract. That is my dream.”