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3/4/2004

Sticky situation

By Tony Kindelspire
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — We’re not sure how many companies can trace their roots to the 2002 election debacle and a bout with the flu, but we know of one.

Like millions of us, John Fischer was left waiting and watching Florida, wondering how the election was going to turn out. Perhaps inspired by fever, he got an idea for a bumpersticker: “He’s Not My President.”

“We didn’t actually have anything; we didn’t have any stuff; we just did it as a gag,” said Fischer, who previously worked in the IT department at Whole Foods.

But when he contacted members of the media he had known from his old job to tell them of his idea, it became apparent it was no joke. “Everybody picked it up,” Fischer said.

StickerGiant.com was born soon after. At the time, Fischer didn’t know anything about running an e-commerce site, he said, but he learned soon enough.

“StickerGiant was built with off-the-shelf shareware, freeware, stuff like that,” Fischer said. “I learned how to bootstrap myself. If I didn’t know how to do it myself, there’s the Internet. There’s people out there that are willing to take time out of their day to show you how to do it — for free. Strangers!”

These days, StickerGiant.com sells close to 9,000 items: keychains, buttons and, of course, the infamous George W. Bush toilet paper.

But stickers are still the heart of the business.

“I calculated last night, we’ll sell a quarter of a million stickers this year,” Fischer said, adding that that’s because of his company’s growth, not just because it’s an election year.

He said his company currently processes about 75 to 80 orders per day, with the average order just under $20.

Fischer and his two employees — one “almost” full-time and another part-timer — work out of their cramped Longmont offices, surrounded by rows and rows of accordion files filled with stickers and pegboard-lined walls filled with buttons and keychains.

The stickers run the gamut, from the conservative — “Annoy a liberal: work hard and be happy” — to the other side of the aisle — “Somewhere in Texas there’s a village missing an idiot.”

But they’re not all political. One of his top sellers, Fischer said, is the old standby, “Bad cop/No donut.”

“We’re the non-partisan clearinghouse for the First Amendment,” Fischer said. But that’s not to say his company doesn’t take some grief.

“There might be 9,000 stickers, but they pick out one little one and e-mail us and say, ‘You people are terrible,’” said one employee, who asked not to be identified. “They’re always swearing at us on the Internet.”

For Fischer, getting sworn at or even hacked into comes with the territory when you’re running an e-commerce business. And now in its third year, business is good at StickerGiant.

“At this point, distributors are coming to us on a regular basis, Fischer said. “I’m not getting rich but I’m supporting my family. And my job’s not going to India.”

Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at tkindelspire@times-call.com.