CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — Necessity is the mother of invention. That includes the need to have fun! So when a Cedar Rapids girl asked her father for help with a special project, it resulted in a small business producing extra-large entertainment Created in the Corridor.
This story starts in the spring of 2015 and proves that even the smallest idea can lead to big things.
“I’ve shipped a Yardzee, I think, to almost every state in the lower 48. I’ve hit, actually, Alaska and I believe I hit Hawaii once,” said Mike Konchar as he recalled areas of the country to which he has shipped is first giant yard game creation.
Konchar is an entrepreneurial family man who’s been working out of his garage for three years, thanks to a request from his daughter. “She said, ‘Hey dad, can you make this?’ And I, of course was like, I don’t have any of the tools.”
So he got the tools and produced an outsized version of the table game Yahtzee. And even though it was very raw, he did what a lot of people do. “Social media was picking up real well at the time, I just posted some picturesand I kinda just got flooded with people saying ‘how can I get some?’ Andthere it was!”
Konchar’s company, XL Yard Games, is exactly what its name implies; extra-large versions of the games you played as kids. From Yardzee--hand-crafted from pine and paint-- to Tumbler, a giant version of Jenga that a group of co-workers had a ball with recently at the Broken Spoke in Cedar Rapids.
“I’d never played one this size,” said Jamie Johnson of Marion. “I’ve always played the little one with the kids when they were littlethis was a blast, an absolute blast. It was awesome!”
Molly Baynes agreed, “I meant to come have a quick drink for happy hour and instead I had, probably the most fun I’ve had all week with these guys.”
“I saw him post a few pictures online of games that he was making and I thought I should have a couple of those,” said Steve Shriver, President of local company Eco Lips. Shriver saw the marketing opportunities from customized versions of the games that Konchar produces.
“The most fun we’ve had with them is setting them out at music festivals. We’ll sponsor a music festival (and) we’ll just put them out there on a table and these are games that have our logos on them. We’ll watch complete strangers just walk up to them and start playing them and engage in the games for an hour, sometimes two,” shared Shriver.
But big fun can come in smaller packages too. Konchar developed Quarter Board, downsizing the larger game of Cornhole to save on shipping costs. “You can play it on your desk, you can play it in a break room. “Some of the bars have them; they play them at the bar, play them at the tables,” explained Konchar.
Using his website, Amazon and a few other online vehicles, Konchar’s products can be found all over the country and he hopes they keep people talking.
“A lot of the world ishave my phone out, have my iPad out and we’re all sitting together but we’re not interacting. It’s bringing friends and families and people together to at least talk and not be glued to their phone.”
Konchar also rents games for parties, picnics and wedding receptions. You can find a link to his website HERE.