If you happen to grew up all through the ’90s or are acquainted with the customized from that interval, you must take heed to Pez dispensers. These tiny sweet dispensers with cartoon character heads had been all the fad and ultimately turned prized collectibles all through the US markets. Netflix’s documentary ‘The Pez Outlaw’ follows the unbelievable story of Steve Glew, AKA The Pez Outlaw, who amassed numerous of 1000’s all through the ’90s by strategically smuggling fairly a couple of Pez dispensers from Europe and promoting them all through the US. Now, do it’s important to have to be taught extra about his weird journey and present whereabouts, listed beneath are all the small print you want!
Who’s Steve Glew?
Born in June 1950, Steve Glew confronted poverty whereas rising up in DeWitt, Michigan, and struggled with drug and alcohol abuse for years as an adolescent. Regularly, he managed to point his life spherical and married his companion, Kathy, spherical 1971. The couple had two youngsters and settled on a small rural farm, and by the 90s, Steve was working as a machine operator. To make extra cash, he collected cereal containers from the trash cans of recycling plans, lower out coupons, and obtained 1000’s of toys given out by the cereal firms. He then equipped the collected toys individually and at native festivals.
It was at one such native honest in 1992 the place Steve seen a person promoting $1 Pez dispensers for $25 and making huge earnings. Realizing the worthwhile marketplace for these sweet dispensers, he researched and positioned that they’d been thought-about collectibles, with predominant demand for designs discontinued or equipped outdoors the US. Steve related to just a few Pez collectors and located a weird dispenser that obtained proper right here from a Slovenian warehouse. Therefore, in 1994, the Michigan native reportedly flew to Ljubljana, Slovenia, with merely $4,000. There, he navigated his approach to the talked about warehouse by means of war-torn streets.
For the subsequent 11 years, Steve traveled nearly each month to Jap Europe, carrying $10,000 in $20 funds. By discreetly paying bribes and negotiating at border crossings, he would return every time with 5 duffel baggage filled with 10,000 Pez dispensers from such warehouses. This included uncommon, discontinued, and factory-reject objects, together with prototypes of dispensers nevertheless to hit the markets. Aside from promoting this at a worthwhile course of, Steve furthermore struck a cope with a European authorities of Pez Inc. to offer and import liquidated dispensers from a warehouse in Gyor, Hungary.
Since Pez Inc. had not registered its trademark with US customs, this loophole enabled Steve to carry the merchandise into the nation legally. Nevertheless, solely the corporate was allowed to promote and promote the merchandise all through the US home markets, so Steve’s enterprise was thought-about considerably unlawful. Regardless of this, Pez Inc. didn’t sue him as they thought-about him innocent in the intervening time. This resulted in Steve incomes huge wealth over the subsequent decade. “In 11 years, I earned $4.5 million,” he instructed ABC Information in October 2022. Moreover, he recalled one single cargo of Pez dispensers price $500,000.
Furthermore, in 1998 alone, Steve earned $750,000 and determined to give up his job. Finally, the Michigan native employed six workers and moved collectively collectively along with his household into a great better farmhouse, together with funding his daughter’s school schooling. He claimed to have smuggled a whole of two million Pez dispensers into the US and even equipped them at large-scale Pez collectors’ conventions. Albeit, quickly Pez Inc. realized that the black markets had been harming their product gross sales and had been leaking new designs. As they tightened their pointers, Steve’s European collaborator determined to as soon as extra off.
As a mannequin new scheme, Steve collaborated with a toy vendor to have Pez Inc. manufacture designs created by him. The latter ordered the objects on behalf of a German sweet producer to promote the dispensers in Taiwan, nonetheless they’d been rerouted to Michigan as a substitute. Initially, Steve would possibly promote the mannequin new dispensers at a fast tempo, nevertheless he was unaware of the sly swap Pez Inc. had deliberate forward. He seen that the corporate had reproduced replicas of all eighteen of his designs and had been promoting them on their web site on-line beneath a mannequin new half: Misfit Dispensers.
The place is Steve Glew Right now?
Feeling duped, Steve contacted the seller who had allegedly promised him exclusivity in manufacturing, nonetheless nothing reasonably rather a lot would possibly very correctly be achieved. Regularly his product gross sales went down, and regardless of him decreasing the costs of his merchandise, he was left with predominant losses, a $250,000 debt, and rooms filled with unsold Pez dispensers. With time, Steve retreated to his farms and stopped interacting with folks or attending any social occasions. However, after a while off the grid, he determined to return and promote his unimaginable story to media homes.
In 2010, Steve started writing an internet weblog as an alter ego, The Pez Outlaw, whereby he shared particulars of his life and experiences. The following yr, he even listed the weblog on eBay, providing the rights for a film or a e-book on his life for $750,000. In 2015, The Pez Outlaw’s story gained folks’s curiosity, and Playboy Journal did a attribute on him. Moreover, Warner Bros. optioned the film rights, nonetheless the deal fell by means of after just a few years. In the meantime, Steve started trying to find gifted filmmakers to shoot a documentary based totally completely on his weblog.
As soon as Netflix acquired rights for the documentary, and it was formally launched, Steve regained quite a lot of of his former fame and determined to put it to utilize. Thus, he designed new sweet dispensers with character heads based totally completely on his alter-ego, The Pez Outlaw, they often’re now manufactured at a 3D printing facility in Texas. Given the hype surrounding the documentary, Steve has been doing respectable product gross sales and is reportedly in talks with a writer for a e-book.
Now in his 70s, the Michigan native has been married to Kathy for spherical 51 years. The couple lives a peaceable life on their farm in DeWitt, surrounded by their pet animals. As per experiences, Steve stays to be determining methods to repay half his debt nonetheless has big aspirations for The Pez Outlaw franchise that he hopes to materialize quickly.