They'll each get seven minutes of fame, time on national cable television to hawk crab soup and lacrosse sticks, fruit butter and leather cleaner, "Frigipure" air purifiers and "fighting fist" fishing rod attachments.
For the 20 entrepreneurs picked to represent Maryland on a QVC shopping network program this fall, it's a chance to catapult from relative obscurity into tens of millions of American households.
QVC, which has highlighted individual states and local products as part of a tour of 50 states in 50 weeks since January, will feature Maryland products in a three-hour live broadcast in October. The network announced the winners yesterday, chosen from about 150 entrepreneurs interviewed in Catonsville last month.
Until now, said winner Michael Pedersen, president of Western Water International, few consumers have ever heard of "Frigipure." But that could change come October, when as many as 61 million households get a glimpse of his company's invention, a filtering device that kills refrigerator odors and keep food fresher longer.
"Television is a powerful medium to help explain a product, especially new technology," said Pedersen, whose 12-year-old TTC Forestville company primarily manufactures water treatment products.
And it's a good way to let consumers know about things they never knew they needed in the first place -- like lacrosse sticks, said Stuart Gray, director of corporate finance for STX Inc. of Baltimore. The company credited with inventing the modern-day lacrosse stick will be selling a "soft lacrosse" game set, including a 30-inch stick appropriate for children.
"We're trying to get more exposure to people who would not normally go out and get their child interested in lacrosse -- they'd stick with baseball or soccer," Gray said.
In making selections, QVC buyers looked for variety. The winning selections also include applique denim shirts, hummingbird cedar doormats, handcrafted fruit bowls, gourmet clams casino, meringue and chocolate confections, "soap buster" soap chip savers, germicidal spray, miniature decoys, personal exercise monitors, crystal cube earrings, antique bee pins, crab knives and sports belts.
"We're looking for products that will appeal to the masses and have some long-term potential to QVC -- and those that lend atmosphere to the show," said Alexandra E. Soumbeniotis, a QVC spokeswoman. "Maryland is known for crabs, and lacrosse is very big in the area."
Make life easier
The top three selling products will be asked back for repeat performances on other QVC programs, Soumbeniotis said. Food and items that make life easier tend to do well, she said.
Jake Slagle, owner of the home-based Denzer's Food Products, has high hopes for his Maryland Gourmet Crab Soup.
"I always loved experimenting, particularly cooking soups in the kitchen and felt this was what I could do better than anything else in the world," said Slagle, who started the home-based business 4 1/2 years ago. But competition in the gourmet crab soup market has been fierce, and the company has not yet turned a profit, he said. An appearance on QVC "will make us better known all over the U.S."
Pub Date: 7/08/97