More To The Story with Staley: Kendama toy

Dave meets the guys who are making an ancient toy from Japan

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – This is Chad Covington. Chad lives here in Chattanooga. But that toy in his hand is how he makes his living.

It’s called Kendama. A traditional Japanese skill toy. It’s been around since the 17th century.

8 years ago, when Chad was 18, he and his brother, this young man, Shelton, started their own company, Sol Kendamas.

They tweaked the old toy a bit, starting selling the product, and voila: they had a business that makes money.

Shelton, who’s two years older than Chad, said it was scary to start the venture. With no idea if it would work.

“When we were kids in college, just dreaming, something like this was completely out of this world for us. But we’ve been thrilled. We hope for a lot more in the future.”

The Covington’s do most of their business on-line. They DO sell the product in a few retail stores, such as this one in North Chattanooga.

Whatever the case, it’s working. The Covington’s now have a team of 13. 5 of which are pros. 19 year old Alex Mitchell is one of those pros.

Alex is from Trion. He actually bought his first car with royalties from sales.

But he says to be a pro, one must work at it.

“It’s very hard. When I first started, I had no advantages over anybody else. I couldn’t do anything. But with practice, you CAN…….do anything!”

As for the game itself, you have three cups, a spike, a ball and a string. The goal is to complete a series of tricks, and then land the ball in the spike.
After traveling all over the country these past few years, attending festivals and trade shows, Chad says he’s convinced Kendama will simply flourish!!!

“Anytime we’re walking down the street or playing in a park, people ask what the toy is. So we get to show people what Kendama is. That’s one of our favorite things to do. So any opportunity we get, we try and take it.

Sol Kendamas is manufactured in far away places such as China and Taiwan.

Chad says it’s all…….a dream come true!

Dave Staley, News 12 Now

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