Lisa Ulmer's cowbells are sold in Walmarts across the Southeast. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
September 22, 2014 12:40:54 PM
A Golden Triangle woman is selling cowbells in Walmarts across the Southeast.
Her name is Lisa Ulmer and it began via a fundraiser for her daughter.
In 2011, Ulmer's daughter, Alaina, was chosen to dance in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The teenager, who was a senior at Caledonia High School, had been offered a spot in the parade the previous three years, as well.
Each time, Ulmer was unable to send her daughter because of the expense.
However, in 2011, Ulmer decided no matter what she had to do, her daughter was going to dance in the parade. So she and her daughter and two friends began selling cowbells.
"We were just trying to come up with something that would sell quick," Ulmer, 49, said. "We were State fans and the girls were going to go to State so we just came up with the idea to do cowbells."
The women took a basic bell, painted it, soldered the clapper inside the bell and added a handle with a rubber grip. Ulmer, a lifelong MSU fan, could not use the Bulldog's logo due to copyright laws.
In the end, that didn't matter.
The women set up a stand at Caledonia High football games and sold maroon, black and white cowbells. They sold every one.
They decided to take the cowbells to Starkville and try their luck. When MSU had home games, they set up in the parking lot of a Starkville Auto Zone. As with Caledonia, the cowbells sold well, and Alaina and her mother went to the parade.
One night, while Ulmer was selling cowbells at Caledonia she was approached by a Walmart representative who asked if she would be interested in selling them in local chains of the superstore. She agreed and her cowbells were placed in stores in Mississippi.
The cowbells hit Walmart shelves nationwide this past February.
Ulmer has sold more than 6,000 cowbells and is getting ready to package another shipment of 680 bells headed for Georgia and Texas. She personally delivers to some stores in Mississippi but ships others. The cowbells range in price depending on the store, she said. They cost around $20 in the local Walmart.
Ulmer said business is good but she plans to keep her local gas station and convenient store she operates because she likes to stay busy.
When asked about her entrepreneurial spirit, Ulmer said it's in her blood.
"I think I get it from my daddy," she said. "My daddy's the same way, he does everything."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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