Got Those Smelly Gym Clothes Blues? Try Dennis Green's Sneaker Balls and It's Arrivederci, Aroma
Dennis Green first got on the scent three years ago when his wife, Mary Lou, delicately hinted that it was time he laundered his gym clothes. "There's a funny smell in the car," said Mrs. Green, a grade school teacher in Denver. It seemed that Mr. Green, a free-lance greeting card designer, unpublished novelist and ex-Idaho State basketball player, worked out regularly at a gym, then tossed his soiled exercise togs into the car.
Prompted by his wife's remark, Green began to ponder the whole question of stench warfare. "There should be a product for lazy people who don't want to wash their clothes," he decided. "I started looking around for air fresheners, but no one had thought of one to use in a small space like a tennis shoe or gym bag."
Smelling a market out there, Green devised a product called Sneaker Balls, deodorant spheres about the size of a golf ball. By adapting industrial discs that gradually release a scent, Green set about designing a prototype, a year-long process that put him $30,000 in hock. Happily for him, Sneaker Balls were a hit at a 1988 Los Angeles trade show, and K mart soon put in an order for 350,000 of Green's product.
Since then, the Dennis Green Design Group Ltd., through a Colorado subcontractor, has sold 1.5 million Sneaker Balls at $2.50 to $4 apiece, with back orders for 5 million more. Inserted into disgusting gym bags and ripe lockers, they last up to three months and come in six nose-tweaking fragrances: Ocean Breeze, Evergreen Mist, Lemon Sprint, Pink Glacier, Fire Fighter and Night Wind.
Sneaker Balls have made the 45-year-old Green a millionaire, but he'd rather be a published novelist. He recently completed a manuscript titled Double Bind, which he describes as a psychological thriller, and is seeking a publisher. In the meantime, Green must make do with the sweat smell of success.
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