After her success in helping Barbie become a billion-dollar brand, Cathy Parks set out to prove that her process could help small brands, and not just megabrands. And prove it she did. The PARKS Method has been proven to work for consumer goods businesses of all sizes.

How do Shari Nomady and Yvette Brown fit into the story?

In 1988(!) Shari and Yvette worked together at the So Cal satellite office of a Chicago-based marketing agency. 

Cathy was an Account Director from the Chicago headquarters. Together they did some collabs on client work (household name brands) and built a friendship. A year later they left to start their own agency.

They reconnected again with Cathy the next year when she moved to SoCal to take a job at Mattel Toys. The new agency showed what they could do for Mattel, and over-delivered in a big way.

The three of them worked together for about a decade, launching some of the “first-ever” retail programs like Magic Nursery Baby Showers and Barbie Birthday Parties that led to Walmart’s “Retailtainment” division. Partnership programs with AMC Theatres, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and MasterCard. Seasonal and contra-seasonal programs for all major Mattel brands and key retailers like Walmart, Target, and Toys “R” Us.

Eventually Cathy moved from marketing to sales when Mattel needed help expanding their retail footprint. Cathy over-delivered by targeting and opening brand new retail store accounts like Avon, QVC, HSN, and airport stores.  She led the team that launched Barbie as a lifestyle brand and had retailers coveting new, exclusive products.

Meanwhile, Shari and Yvette grew their marketing agency to a staff of over 30 people and expanded their predominately B2C marketing experience into the B2B world.  All three kept in touch, looking for new ways to work together again.

Fast forward to 2020….the global pandemic severely disrupted the economy so badly that the three of them realized it was time to share their collective expertise to help struggling business owners thrive in this new normal. This was the perfect time for a reunion. So Sell to Stores was born, as a series of resources that continues to evolve to help product creators and inventors get on retail shelves.

A Passion for Retail, by Cathy Parks

Retail is my passion. My cell phone is filled with more photos of retail shelves than my kids. In reality, that’s true.

When I was a copywriter at Ogilvy in the 80’s, I never imagined I would end up focused on retail. Yet, since the 1990’s I’ve been opening up brand new sales channels for everything from billion-dollar brands like Barbie to online-only international brands like Imagination Games.

Blazing new trails by getting brands into new and unexpected places like catalog retailer Avon, home shopping giants QVC and HSN, regional retailers like Meijer, and of course mass-merchandisers Target and Walmart has been rewarding career-wise while giving me a way, as a single mom, to raise my three daughters and even put them through college.

In my first year of sales at Mattel, I was in charge of finding new stores to sell Barbie. It wasn’t easy, since Barbie had already been around for about 40 years, and management didn’t believe that there were really that many profitable new places to sell.

I disagreed.  I imagined Barbie being sold through Avon.  They were the biggest catalog publisher at the time, and their audience was right to buy Barbie. I convinced them to place Barbie in their catalog by creating an exclusive Avon Barbie doll. In that very first year, Avon became the 5th largest overall Barbie customer. Behind giants like Walmart, Target and Toys “R” Us, but way ahead of retail accounts that had been selling Barbie for years.

All of Mattel was shocked and elated. The momentum from Avon gave me corporate support to chase other new channels. But I knew I had to pick wisely.  I used my marketing background to think like a customer.  I tried to imagine what problem buying a Barbie doll would solve, or what need it would fulfill. That’s how I created the list of places to target.

From there I did a lot of legwork to find out who the buyers were for stores that Mattel had never before done business with.

Before presenting, I did my research to think like the buyer, understanding how Barbie would fit into their existing world, and then I put together a presentation that laid out the case for why Barbie.

Soon we were on QVC and HSN, doing million-dollar hours with Barbie and Hot Wheels. And that was just the beginning. I got Barbie sold into airport stores, and even expanded the doll line into a lifestyle brand, with licensing deals in multiple categories.

It was during the time that Barbie sales moved into the coveted billion dollar brand category.

Like I said, I was and still am the sole breadwinner in my household as a single mom of three girls. Not only do I need to provide for them, but I have always been committed to setting a good example as a strong, independent woman.

After leaving Mattel I realized I had a rare advantage. My background in marketing and time in product development played a big role in how I approached retail.  First, by always spending time to visit various retail locations (and taking those pictures that still fill my phone), I could uncover sales opportunities for different product categories. To close sales, I found that when I blended the key marketing initiatives of a retailer with a consumer perspective, I could figure out what the buyer wanted.  And I serve it up to them in a way that made it easy for them to say yes. My sales career has given me a chance to prove my process (now formalized as the PARKS Method) over and over again, to mostly appreciative business owners.

I’ve helped many business owners get their first brick and mortar PO and more. Just before COVID, I opened up 11 new customer channels in one year, increasing the company’s annual revenue by over 150%.

Sharing the PARKS Method and creating Sell to Stores is my way of positively influencing many more struggling business owners simply by sharing my knowledge and processes.

Have you struggled to maintain consistent online sales since you launched your product? Are you worried about relying on a single revenue stream like Amazon? Have you always dreamed of seeing your invention on-shelf at a retail store?

If you’re open to listening and are committed to growth and success, you too can follow my exact process to expand business by selling to stores.

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