Walmart, Mesa man get chummy over his invention The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Walmart, Mesa man get chummy over his invention

Walmart, Mesa man get chummy over his invention
Business
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By  Kenzel Williams
Tribune Contributor

A fishing lure of sorts made by a Mesa fisherman will soon hit the shelves of Walmart after clearing a hurdle in the retail giant’s search for products made by American small-business owners.

ChumPODS – water-soluble pods of chum that can be used during fishing – was created Pearce Outdoors, a company formed by fisheries biologist and Mesa native Grant Pearce.

The pods are similar to laundry detergent pods and are useful for fishermen looking to save time.

Pearce was one of 175 businesses that made it from a screening process involving 800 small businesses from across the country that pitched their U.S.-manufactured products during 30-minute one-on-one meetings with Walmart and Sam’s Club merchants during the company’s first virtual Open Call event.

While helping kids during fishing events, Pearce noticed that many of them usually end the day empty-handed.

“There’s nothing worse to somebody that goes fishing for the first time than to not catch any fish,” said Pearce.

Pearce wanted to help anglers who don’t have as much luck catching fish and thought of ChumPODS after using laundry detergent pods one day.

He started going to work in his garage, using PVA material, a biodegradable and environmentally friendly film that dissolves in water.

Pearce credited his wife for her patience in putting up with his experimentation.

“My garage was smelling pretty ripe with dead fish,” said Pearce. “Every time you would open the garage door, the smell would hit you in the face.”

Pearce next found a manufacturer that would hold the strongly scented products and sell them online to cover his costs

He also researched big retailers that could potentially sell ChumPODS. From there, he found Walmart’s Open Call, a program dedicated to giving small businesses a chance to sell their products at the retailer.

The program is part of Walmart’s 2013 commitment to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023.

Pearce attributed the success of ChumPODS to the fact it’s never even been thought of by fishermen.

“Like most things in the world, especially in the fishing market, it’s hard to find something truly new and innovative,” said Pearce. “Most of the time, a new product is just a spinoff of something that already exists.”

Pearce was worried about being able to make it to the meeting with Walmart merchants, as that was the same day that he and his wife’s baby was due. Thankfully, she was delivered their newborn son 12 hours after the meeting.

“When he’s older, I can’t wait to tell him about that,” said Pearce.

Walmart said the most popular categories of products pitched to corporate executives in a daylong online session that drew more than 34,000 views were food, health and wellness and personal care. Products pitched reflected consumer trends in healthy foods, natural products, ethnic cuisine, snacks and adult beverages, it said. 

As a fifth-generation Mesa resident, Pearce is thankful that he was able to start his business in his hometown. 

“It’s been cool to start a business where I grew up, and at the same time help some of the people at the local lakes catch more fish,” said Pearce. “That’s where I’ve done almost all of the product testing.”

Pearce hopes that his business will eventually become a staple in the city and that he will be able to employ more people in the community.

While it undergoes a few changes, ChumPODS is expected to reach Walmart shelves in the spring. Pearce is also reaching out to other big retailers in hopes that it will be sold at more stores.

Pearce said that he’s living the American Dream, and he hopes that his business will continue to expand.

“When I first started working out of my garage and building prototypes by hand, if someone told me I had the chance to put this idea into Walmart, it’s something I almost wouldn’t really believe,” said Pearce. 

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