Why the World Needs Radio Flyer

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Why the World Needs Radio Flyer

September 27, 2012
posted by Robert Pasin

Why does the world need Radio Flyer?  Really … come on – it’s just a toy.  Would people die if they didn’t have a wagon, or a tricycle?  Our products are not a necessity.  I was chatting with my neighbor a couple of nights ago, and guess what he does? He’s a brain surgeon – he saves lives.  What do I do? I just sell wagons. 

It got me thinking … am I making a meaningful enough contribution to this world?

Maybe what we do is not that important.  So, why does the world need Radio Flyer?

I felt I needed to break that BIG question down into some smaller questions first.

Why do people hold onto their wagons forever?  I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, “I have a Radio Flyer wagon in my garage” backyard, basement or attic.

Why do people love to tell us their stories about their Radio Flyer? And post their photos on Flickr and Facebook?

Remember the Alaskan couple that built a Radio Flyer wagon out of a truck?  The most remarkable thing (to me) about this labor of love was that every news outlet picked up this story. It was all over the internet, and I must have received over 40 emails from people I know with the message, “Have you seen this?!” Why did everyone care so much about this adult-sized Radio Flyer wagon?

Why? I ask.

One word – nostalgia.

I used to hate this word because when I first starting working here 20 years ago people would say to me, “You have such a nostalgic brand.”  This made me angry because I felt that they were saying, “You are a relic.”  “Your best days are behind you.”  “You are obsolete.”  “You have nothing new to offer.”

Over the last 20 years, we grew, achieved success, and demonstrated that Radio Flyer is both classic and current – and we can develop great new products that are relevant. Then, I began to feel differently about this word – nostalgia.

What does this word really mean?  It comes from two Greek root words:  NOSTROS – homecoming and ALGOS – ache.

It is a deep yearning for something from our past, often an idealized form.  It is a very powerful feeling and it is why people keep those wagons.

So, Why Does the World Need Radio Flyer?

Because, Radio Flyer transports people to a happy time – their childhood -- when they were little and playing and laughing.

Radio Flyer doesn’t just transport people to childhood, but the best parts of childhood – fun, freedom, love, play, adventure, motion, and imagination -- a time when anything was possible.

Radio Flyer transports people to a place where they were loved.

When I think about why the world needs Radio Flyer, I know that what we do is not life & death and that we’re just a small company making a few children's products.  I also know that Picasso was just one painter, and Frank Lloyd Wright was just one architect, and Ella Fitzgerald was just one singer -- and we can all survive without art and architecture and music.  Yes, we can survive, but can we live fully without these things that bring us joy?

I have always believed that Radio Flyer is a force of good in the world – we hold a special place in people’s hearts.  Share your Radio Flyer story.