Eight minutes. A book about losing weight. A short film about rabid Star Wars fans. The time necessary to down 83 steamed dumplings in a...
A book about losing weight. A short film about rabid Star Wars fans. The time necessary to down 83 steamed dumplings in a Hong Kong eating contest.
And on this day, the only thing that stands between Kevin Troudt and do-it-yourself fame.
Troudt, a West Seattle native, has eight minutes to persuade 87 million QVC households to buy a pair of his “Stretta Extendable C-Clamps” for $18.97, or $4.03 off the retail price.
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He and nine other inventors were picked to display their inventions on QVC’s Decade of Discoveries Tour — broadcast live yesterday from Seattle Center.
But getting on the show is not enough. This being a true American democracy, people vote with their dollars.
“Pearls go with everything,” host Carolyn Gracie tells the audience.
She is displaying invention No. 5, the Rosaline Cultured Pearl 5 Strand Necklace with Resin Cameo.
“I love cameos and I thought this was different because she has a beautiful hat on,” Gracie says.
A woman in the audience — short silver hair, Jackie-O rhinestone-studded glasses — nods enthusiastically. She likes the cameo with the hat, too.
Troudt is No. 7 on the list, which means the Jack Stack Barbecue, the U-GlowDog! Lighted Dog Collar, the Impel Laundry Bag and the Luster Lace Polishese Box Pack all go first.
As 12:07 p.m., his turn arrives.
Troudt waits for a brief snippet about the Space Needle and the International Fountain, while kids in swimsuits run through the water in the background, screaming with glee.
Troudt’s partners, Jeff Winkle and Andy Molenda, watch on a nearby TV.
His photo flashes on the screen while the announcer mentions three products vying for a spot on the finals — a heart pendant, a set of cheese knives and odor-eliminator spray.
When the eight minutes begin, Troudt launches into an explanation of how he came up with the idea. He was trying to build a dog house using an ordinary C-Clamp. It was an inch too short. He had to drop everything and go to the hardware store.
“If you’re like my husband, you sort of lose interest when you have to stop,” Gracie says.
“Exactly,” Troudt replies.
Trout invented a C-Clamp that had the ability to extend. (The set includes a 3- to 5-inch and 5- to 9-inch version.)
Troudt empties a sack of old, rusty C-clamps onto the table for dramatic effect. He holds up the largest C-Clamp, the length of a liter of Coke.
“These are great if you’re building a ship,” he says. “How many of us do that?”
Three-hundred sold, 1,088 to go.
“You don’t have to tip it up really high,” Gracie says, demonstrating how to adjust the C-Clamp with ease.
“Such a great idea, Kevin,” she says. “This is a great idea!”
Five-hundred gone, 888 left.
Demand is strong enough that the QVC producers flash the real-time orders on the screen — a C-Clamp order nearly every second.
Gracie finishes up with a caller named Ann. “That price is only good through midnight,” she cautions.
Troudt begins demonstrating how they fixed a coffee mug, the faces of someone’s children emblazoned on front.
Two hundred left.
He now moves on to repairing a women’s sandal.
“We sold out!” Jeff Winkle, his partner, says in the background. “We sold out with two minutes left.”
The Jack Stack Barbecue and the pair of C-Clamps were the only two products to sell out. Hours later, the C-Clamp set is selling strong.
A spokeswoman counted 320 extra orders by 3 p.m. She says the pearl strand with the cameo should sell out by midnight, too.
Troudt later says only two things flashed through his mind: “Let’s get this over with” and “God help me.”
Troudt and Molenda said the company would work to get its products introduced into U.S. home-improvement chains.
“Pretty good for a couple of West Seattle grads,” Troudt says.
Monica Soto Ouchi: 206-515-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org