Designer brings new ideas to Packo’sWritten by Shannon Wisbon | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Beard is ”loving every minute” of his job.
Beard has served Tony Packo’s as the merchandise manager for nearly a year. A Toledo native and graduate of BGSU who studied graphic design, Beard is the mind behind the new ideas and products on the shelves of Tony Packo’s gift shops.
”I literally create all of Tony Packo’s merchandise from start to finish,” Beard said. ”Born and raised in Toledo, my ties to the city now more than ever influence my design ideas.”
Prior to working at Tony Packo’s, Beard worked in the gift shop and was part of product development at the Toledo Museum of Art.
”While working at the museum, I realized that pop culture ruled my life. You don’t get any more pop culture in Toledo than with Tony Packo’s,” Beard said.
Part of Beard’s pop culture knowledge is being used in a new Toledo Free Press feature on graphic novels and the local comic book scene. Beard has written and published comics for DC Comics and Dark Horse.
From new T-shirt print ideas to a Tony Packo’s baby line, Jim Beard is responsible for it all.
”I love coming up with new ideas,” Beard said. ”That’s the great thing about the Packo’s family — they are always willing to listen and consider my ideas. Customers often bring new ideas to me and I then present them to the Packo’s family. This business is really fun because I get to see the customer light up over a new product. The customer then buys the product and I have satisfaction. It’s a great feeling.”
Beard said he must keep an open mind for product ideas that come up suddenly.
”If 15 people come to me and tell me they would like to see a Tony Packo’s bumper sticker, I do the best I can to bring their idea to reality.”
Beard said he loves coming up with new ideas, and although some ideas do not go as well as they hope, those products do retire and new products hit the shelf.
”I love to see what people enjoy. Personally, I could not pick a favorite product, but the infant wear is fun,” Beard said.
Referring to a T-shirt with a picture of Jamie Farr on the back, Beard said, ”This T-shirt encompasses three things: Tony Packo’s, Toledo, and M*A*S*H all in one great gift.”
Inside Tony Packo’s, more than 1,000 signed hot dog buns line the wall of the Front Street restaurant. These signed buns consist of celebrities, presidential candidates and many other great faces who have visited Tony Packo’s.
”Anyone can sign a bun,” Beard said. ”If it makes it up on the wall, now that’s a different story.”
Those who have actually visited the Toledo restaurant have signed 90 percent of the buns signed. The rest consist of those who have visited Toledo, but not Packo’s.
”When celebrities are in town, sometimes we have a bun sent to their hotel and they sign it there and send it back to us. Someday I hope to have a bun on the wall. They haven’t asked me yet, but maybe some day I will be a local celebrity,” Beard said, smiling.
Tony Packo’s will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year and is about to open a new location near Fifth Third Field.
”I’m extremely excited to be a part of the celebration. We have some really cool things in the work here. There will be some things customers might not expect to see,” Beard said. ”I can’t wait.”