An Opunake couple have identified a market where ordinary people pay good money to run head-first into one another.
Steve Kelliher and Sally Le Gros recently imported 22 blow-up "bumper balls" direct from China for their new business Bumpit Taranaki NZ.
Bumper balls are large inflatable plastic orbs which users pull over their top half, leaving the legs free to run.
People wearing the bumper balls then charge into each other and bounce around without fear of injury.
There had been considerable interest in the bumper balls since Bumpit started out five weeks ago, Le Gros said.
"We have no trouble trying to get people enthused to use it," Le Gros said.
The 22 bumper balls came in three different sizes and could be used by people aged four years up to adults, she said.
The pair are looking to expand their product range and already had three zorb-like balls on route to New Zealand.
"We want to remain different and get products that aren't used here so we have a point of difference in the market," she said.
Using Bumper Balls could be physically demanding and provided excellent fitness for a range of ages, she said.
"It's not really for the faint-hearted but it's real fun."
Bumpit were finding that different ages used them in different ways.
Adults tended to be more co-ordinated and game focused while the kids preferred to crash around or roll, she said.
Bumpit provided a mobile service and were looking at working with schools and providing discounted rates, she said.
Opunake High School had already incorporated bumper balls into its end- of-year camp, she said.
Bumpit would also target camp grounds, fairs and galas, corporate groups, sports teams and stag dos, she said.
"We're trying to keep our rates as low as possible."
All that was required for Bumpit to set up was a large flat area, she said.
Bumper balls could also be used indoors such as school halls and gyms, she said.
During the hot weather bumper ball sessions were best timed to early morning and late afternoon. "It's just too hot for the kids in this heat."
Kelliher and Le Gros supervised all the games and demonstrated how bumper balls worked.
"We want to remain exclusive as we can in Taranaki."
Le Gros was a nurse before going on maternity leave and Kelliher worked in the oil and gas industry before having to leave his job due to a bad back.
They knew they needed to find a new source of income and found bumper balls out of necessity, she said.
Importing from China was initially a bit daunting but things had played out smoothly, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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