Beanie Babies Airlifted To Bypass Shipping Backlogs

CHICAGO – With his Beanie Babies stranded at sea aboard a flotilla of slow-moving boats from China, Chicago billionaire Ty Warner has taken to the skies to bypass the current shipping crisis, reserving entire cargo planes to bring back her stuffed animals at home for the holidays.

If only Buckley the Stag and Lola the Lama could earn air miles.

Warner, whose Westmont, Illinois-based Ty Inc., has been making Beanie Babies in China for decades, has chartered more than 150 flights from airports in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong since October, carrying Beanie Babies for over 6,000 miles to O’Hare International Airport.

From there, the Beanie Babies are sent to the company’s warehouse in Bolingbrook, Illinois for distribution to retailers across the country.

“The widely reported issues with global supply chains have cast a veil over the coming Christmas. There is too much misfortune out there, ”Warner said in a press release. “I’m here to tell our customers that despite what they may have read or heard, Christmas is not canceled.

Growing demand and a shortage of workers this fall resulted in a backlog fueled by a pandemic of cargo ships anchored off the coast of California, waiting to unload produce. Beanie Babies, which are normally shipped by sea from China, were among many products abandoned by supply chain issues that continue to disrupt global trade.

While cargo planes cost $ 1.5 million or more per charter flight, Warner said the company would keep the line on its $ 5-10 price tag on Beanie Babies.

“We have brought in millions of Beanie Babies in the last month and a half,” Tania Lundeen, vice president of global sales for Ty Inc., told The Tribune. “It really improves the time it takes to get the product into shelves of our retailers. “

Ty isn’t the only company putting key goods on planes to avoid traffic jams before the holidays.

Global air cargo demand rose 9.1% in September compared to the same month in 2019, the International Air Transport Association said in a press release earlier this month.

Hasbro, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co., Lululemon, Ralph Lauren, Under Armor, Adidas, Deckers Outdoor Corp. – owner of footwear and apparel brands UGG and Hoka – all use more expensive air freight to bypass congested ports or compensate for production delays, at least for key products, according to recent earnings calls and lectures by ‘investors.

Under Armor has used a lot of airfreight this year, “which we don’t get excited about, but it’s a necessary thing with the challenges we all face,” CFO David Bergman said on an earnings call earlier this month. .

Although the goods carried are more expensive than shipping them, bottlenecks in the supply chain drive up costs and close the gap, according to the International Air Transport Association. Before the pandemic, transporting cargo by air cost more than 12 times more than sea transport, but in September it was only three times as expensive, according to the trade association.

Launched in 1993, Beanie Babies quickly became a collectable fad, with annual sales reaching $ 1.4 billion in 1998 and rare versions of the plush toys reaching thousands of dollars in the aftermarket. In 1997, Ty teamed up with McDonald’s, offering Teenie Beanies as Happy Meal gifts that became collectibles on their own.

By the start of the new millennium, the Beanie Babies frenzy was over, but Ty Inc. continues to produce new products every year, adding Beanie Boos, handbags and, most recently, animal masks to the Menagerie of offers.

The private company does not disclose annual sales, but Beanie Babies has made Warner one of Illinois’ richest entrepreneurs, with a net worth currently estimated at $ 3.6 billion, according to Forbes. Warner has diversified its investments, building a portfolio of upscale hotels that includes the Four Seasons in New York City, which it bought for $ 275 million in 1999.

In 2014, Warner was given two years probation in a tax evasion case after agreeing to pay a civil fine of $ 53 million and at least $ 27 million in back taxes. Warner pleaded guilty to tax evasion after failing to report $ 24 million in income from unreported Swiss bank accounts he held from 1996 to 2008.

Ty Warner, whose Westmont, Illinois-based Ty Inc. has been making Beanie Babies in China for decades, has chartered more than 150 flights from airports in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong since October, carrying the Beanie Babies for over 6,000 miles. at O’Hare International Airport.

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