Japan may have it over the United States in the electronics biz, but we've got 'em cold when it comes to . . . ant farms. Indeed, Chuo Busson Corp. of Tokyo recently purchased its first order: 2,500 of that 35-year-old American favorite, Uncle Milton's Ant Farm.
"They saw it at a trade show last June and liked it," says Steve Levine, president of the Culver City-based Uncle Milton Industries. "Collecting insects is a big hobby in Japan. " Uncle Milton also sells ant farms to Canada, Mexico, Australia, Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong.
"I'm sure that in Japan there is a great potential market for it," says Keiji Chiba, sales and brand manager for Chuo Busson's pet division. "We Japanese live in very small houses or apartments. We never try to keep dogs or cats."
Japanese consumers who've seen the ant farms in U.S. stores, however, may be in for a little sticker shock. The Regular Ant Farm, which retails here for about $10, costs a whopping 2,500 yen (about $18) in a Japanese department store, while the Giant Ant Farm, $20 in the United States, will cost the ant-struck Japanese 5,750 yen (about $40).
And you have to catch your own ants.