Gary Dahl, an advertising executive created the Pet Rock collectible in 1975. These were basically smooth stones acquired from the city of Rosarito, Mexico, and were marketed like live pets. Odd as it seemed, this toy was all the rager in 1975 but did you know how much it cost?
The Pet Rocks sold about one million pieces for $4 each in a span of six months. The concept was simple, it was a rock in a box with some straw and a trick-teaching guidebook.
The Inception of the Pet Rock Collectible
Gary Dahl was an American copywriter, creative director, and advertising agency owner. He came from modest roots, with his mother working as a waitress, and his father a lumber-mill worker. He worked as a freelance copy editor after graduating from Washington State University.
By 1975, Dahl was living in Los Gatos, California, and was working on several projects when he came up with the pet rock idea with his friends at a bar. At the time, they were discussing the extensive effort people put into taking care of pets. Dahl joked that a pet rock would require little to no care, and decided to make his novelty idea a profitable one. In the next few weeks, he was able to write a 36-page instruction manual and got two people to invest in his product so he could buy smooth Mexican beach stones. (Source: The New York Times)
How Were These Pet Rocks Marketed?
Dahl started selling the pet rocks in August, and within two months he was already selling 10,000 of them in a single day. Towards the holidays, sales boomed and he was able to sell about 1.5 million pet rocks.
The concept of the product was rather simple, it was a piece of smooth rock in a cardboard box filled with straw. The set also came with an official training manual entitled The Care and Training of Your Pet Rock. The manual explains how you’re supposed to raise and care for your new pet. It basically contained jokes, puns, gags, and several things that you may teach your so-called pet. (Source: The Care and Training of Your Pet Rock)
What happened to Gary Dahl’s Career After the Pet Rocks Trend?
Gary Dahl became a minor celebrity after the boom of the Pet Rock Collectible. The craze was widely covered by the media and he was even featured on The Tonight Show. Everyone wanted a piece of him that he had to teach his PR guy to impersonate him on the phone.
While the fad only lasted for half a year, Dahl still made millions and was able to invest it in another business venture. The profit he earned from selling the collectible helped him open a bar in Los Gatos and he named it Carrie Nations’s after the famous bar smasher.
Dahl tried to get back on the novelty toy scene by selling Sand Breeding Kits and Red China Dirt but the attempts failed. People were not as interested as they were in the Pet Rock Collectible. (Source: The New York Times)