The sender of a recent email to me identified herself as Brand Manager, Hammacher Schlemmer. This could have meant only two things: Trouble or Big Trouble.
You see, for almost 15 years I have been poking fun at this company by writing about some of their unique gift items, always taking a little creative license. In a recent column about their Father’s Day issue, I made fun of their Kangaroo Skin Wallet (they took the only animal that could carry a wallet, and made one out of him) and their life-size reproduction of an iconic Central Park bench, which I said (falsely) came with squirrels and pigeons. The column, by the way, was about how Mary Ellen does not give me a Father’s Day gift because she says I am not her father. However, she thinks it totally appropriate that I give her a Mother’s Day present.
I clicked on the email, wondering if my insurance covered lawsuits for making fun of huge inflatable gorillas, selfie toasters, or scales that tell you how fat you are—because you can’t see over your belly. To my great relief and joy, here’s the gist of what the letter said:
“This is Ann Marie from Hammacher Schlemmer. I was happy to wake up today to a Google alert about your article showcasing some of our Father’s Day items. We are very proud of our brand and appreciate your humorous approach to describing our products.”
She went on…
“I was also sorry to hear you won’t be getting a Father’s Day gift from Mary Ellen, so Hammacher Schlemmer would like to send you something. Since we are offering this after your article was written, this cannot be perceived as any sort of bribe, right? Can we just call it a thank you?”
Yes … YES, call it a thank you. Or feel free to call it a bribe. Whatever gets me the nicest gift.
But how cool is that? A great company with a sense of humor about their products. I made a quick call to Ann Marie and she asked me what I would like as a thank you gift. This stumped me at first, so I told her I wanted to do a little research. I googled “Most expensive Hammacher Schlemmer gifts” and here were a few I found:
The fire breathing dragon: Says HS, “This does everything you ever wanted a remote-controlled dragon to do. It flies 70 mph and shoots flames out of its mouth.” It’s only $75,000. At that price, I assume the batteries are sold separately.
Emotive Robotic Avatar: At only $65,000, “this is a high-tech version of a ventriloquist dummy. Through your smart phone, you can get it to talk, and it expresses five emotions.” (Which might be two or three more than your significant other.)
The submarine sports car: At only $2 million, the vehicle has two built-in scuba tanks, allowing you to stay underwater for two hours, something you can do with a $6 snorkel and a pair of flippers.
Mary Ellen didn’t think they’d spring for any of these choices, so I am going to compromise and request a $20 gift certificate.
Just a quick note to the good folks at Hammacher Schlemmer: If you do decide to send me the $2 million submarine sports car, I promise I’ll write a funny column about it.
Dick Wolfsie has been a reporter for WISH-TV in Indianapolis the past 30 years. His columns appear in 30 Indiana newspapers and he can be heard each weekend on public radio stations across the state. He is a resident of Indianapolis. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.