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Carle Wunderlich - Get Out in Front of Customers!

What do you do in the industry?

I am a Manufactures Rep. I represent around 20 different Toy and Game lines. We sell to the independent retailers in IL & IN.

What is your claim to fame in the industry?

The fact I’ve been in the toy business for 38 years. My father and grandfather were retailers and carried toys in their stores. I have stuff about them and the toy business going back to the 1940’s. Now, my son is the 4th generation of Wunderlich that is in the toy business.

Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?

After college I worked for a Dept. Store in South Bend IN as a men’s clothing buyer for a several years and I was transferred back to the Chicago area to be a toy buyer for a large catalog on January 2, 1980. I didn’t really have a choice, up till then I was buying men’s clothing. It took about a month and I was going to be in the toy business for a long time.

What are you working on now?

Now is the time when customers want to get the buying finished so they can concentrate on sales in the store. I have many appointments and traveling now.

What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?

Games and puzzles are on a big upswing. And not just young kids games , but games for teenagers and adults. Adult puzzles are the best sellers. There is an item from Ravensburger that’s not a puzzle or game. Gravitrax , a fun science and engineering concepts like gravity , magnetism, and kinetics make STEM exciting.

What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?

Learn everything about the entire process from the idea in your head and to the game/toy on the store shelf. Call Mary she will get you all set up.

What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?

Work! Always have a job, especially if you not sure exactly what you want to do. Keep your eyes open for the right opportunity.

What does your typical day look like?

I start off by going thru my emails and trying to answer them. If I have an appointment I get everything together to get to my appointment. If I don’t have an appointment, I get caught up on paper work, and making appointments.

What’s your workspace setup like?

I have a small office with toys and picture of my kids and grandkids. I don’t want it to be too comfortable, keeps me out of the office and in front of my customers.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Anytime, I’m with a customer. Many of my customers I have known for over 30 years. They are more like friends than customers. I like to get to know them.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?

I have had a lot of jobs, but the one I didn’t like was working for Goldblatts Home Center. It was just after High School, and I was taking a couple classes at a Jr. College. I moved furniture all day and set up displays in the store. I quit and went to college full time. I had no desire to be doing jobs like that the rest of my life.

What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?

I wish I could plan my week much faster. Calling to make appointments can get very difficult. I have to juggle things around several times,

What and/or who inspires you?

My customers.

How do you recharge or take a break?

I’m working on that.

What was your favorite toy or game as a child?

My bike was the thing I got around on.

Where were you born?

I was born in Columbus Ohio; my dad was transferred in 1967 to the Chicago area.

What was your life like growing up?

I remember it as a fun time in my life. We played outside from morning to when I heard my dad’s big bell being rung. My dad like my friends dads worked all the time. I can’t think of one mom that worked.

Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?

I lived in Columbus, Ohio until we moved to the Chicago area when I was around 13. It was totally different. In Columbus my friends and I rode our bikes everywhere. During the summer we went everywhere on our bike: Drug store, fast food places, empty lots, creeks, and back and forth to each other’s house. I couldn’t do that when we moved .

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

I was also a distributor for 17 years in addition to being a sales rep. I made several mistakes then. If I had the ability I would write a book on things not to do. I would. I should have stuck to just selling toys, as a sales rep.

What do you read every day, and why?

My emails, I like to keep up with them so I don’t get behind. I try to take care of all the emails right away, I like to have an empty mail box before I go to bed.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

I have a scanner I use when I’m with a customer to help write orders.

How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?

I go for a walk or just get away from whatever I’m doing.

When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Probably at night when I’m watching TV

Are you named after anyone?

My father, I am Carle II.

Do you have any kiddos?

I have 2 boys. Carle III 34, he is a contractor. Barry 31, he is also a sales rep with me.

Do you have any pets?

Yes, a Box Turtle named Mr. T.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Ice Cream.

Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s)?

I used to be in a band and played guitar.

What’s your favorite cereal?

As a kid it was Rice Krispies, (Snap Crackle Pop!) now I like granola.

What’s the first thing you usually notice about people?

Probably I look at the way someone is dressed. And if they are easy to talk to or a quite person.

What is your eye color?


Do you prefer scary movies or happy endings?


Summer or Winter?


Hugs or Kisses?


What’s your favorite TV show?

I like the situation comedies. Right now I think Mom is my favorite.

What is your favorite night out?

Another thing I’m working on.

Favorite movie of all time?


What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?

Germany I went with Ravensburger.

Do you have any special talents?

I wish.

What are your hobbies?

I love to play with my grandkids. I play a lot of games with my granddaughter. I am an avid Ohio State fan. I do like to work around the house, and garden

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I don’t want to ever grow up. So far I haven’t.

What’s next?

I would like to work as long customers will see me I will keep showing up.

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