The pet rock fad was begun by Gary Dahl in 1975. Dahl worked in advertising. He knew a good ad could sell even the most common item in the world. Why not rocks? It started as a joke during a night of drinking. Dahl was trying to come up with the perfect pet. He went home and in two weeks wrote a booklet called the Pet Rock Training Manual. He went to a building supply store and found a ready supply of stones from Rosarita Beach in Baja, Mexico. The rocks were distinguished for their fairly uniform gray pebble shape. They cost a penny. Dahl packed the manual and stone into a little box with air holes cut into it. Ha ha. He sold each pet rock for $3.95. How did he come up with that price? His business plan from the outset was whatever he sold, he wanted to keep a dollar for himself. Cheeky monkey!

Dahl decided instead of trying to market it as a toy, he would market it as a gift. Space on merchant toy shelves was hard to get but the gift world was much easier. In the summer of 1975, he got a booth at the national pre-Christmas gift convention in San Francisco. A buyer for Neiman-Marcus ordered five hundred. Emboldened by the sale Dahl began sending out amusing press releases to media outlets. Amidst the Watergate scandal, the winding down of the Vietnam war, and terrorism, lots of editors picked up on the story as an amusing little aside to all the troubles America was facing. Newsweek, for example, ran a half page puff piece. By fall, Dahl was shipping 10,000 rocks a day. By Christmas '75, Dahl had shipped 2.5 tons of rocks or about 5 million units. Following Christmas, Dahl's sales dropped like, well, dropped like a stone. The fad had pretty much run its course.

Dahl went on to become a popular motivational speaker.

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