If you don’t have a child who is a believer, well, you’ve just been informed.
How that Elf4 on the Shelf became a business phenomenon in less than a decade was a bit of a Christmas miracle in itself for the family of owners — mother Carol Aebersold and her twin daughters, Chanda Bell and Chirsta Pitts — who were determined to share their families’ holiday tradition with the rest of the world.
According to Fox Small Business, Aebersold finished writing the book that tells the story of the elf in 2004. The trio pitched it to a literary agent who loved it, but couldn’t find a publisher who felt the same. So, the women created their own publishing house, Creatively Classic Activities and Books (CCA and B), and packaged the book with the doll.
By the end of 2005, the new company had sold all 5,000 of the first run and their product was being carried in 18 specialty stores, primarily in the Georgia and North Carolina areas.
“In 2007, CCA and B experienced some Christmas magic of their own when actress Jennifer Garner was spotted carrying their Elf on the Shelf product while walking through New York. The picture hit all the entertainment sites, spiking sales for The Elf on the Shelf and helped further boost the brand,” according to the Fox Small Business website.
“Any entrepreneur that finds success has some tipping point moment when something unexpected happens,” Pitts told Fox Small Business.
According to Fox Small Business: “Protecting their brand has been key to their success. Pitts, her mom and sister make business decisions based on this litmus test: ‘Is this going to protect the brand and does it create family moments?’ They’re also very careful to choose retail outlets that will treat their brand according to specific guidelines laid out by CCA and B. Stores that carry the elf are called ‘adoption centers,’ which have been approved by the big man himself, Santa.”
“A child believes this is an elf from the North Pole, so we’re stringent that the retail outlets are a good home for the elf,” Pitts told Fox Small Business.
For the first several years, Elf on the Shelf, was sold only in small specialty stores, then evolved to gift outlets such as Hallmark, larger book outlets such as Barnes and Noble and this year branched out to Target. From 18 retail outlets in 2005, Elf on the Shelf can now be found in over 10,000 stores throughout the U.S.
In 2011, CBS debuted “The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf’s Story,” an animated Christmas special based on the book, and this year, Aebsrsold hosted readings and book signing in Australia, the United Kingdom and Ireland.