Now you can sleep like the King. But you'll need a queen-size bed, at least for now. Thanks to Encino, Calif. resident David Bursteen, you can bring Elvis Presley into your boudoir.
Bursteen is co-founder of Legends Home Bedding, whose debut offering is a Presley-themed line of comforters and pillow shams that feature the late singer's image. And it looks like Bursteen and his partner, former actress and model Ines Brigman, have a hit on their hands. With Bursteen handling marketing and Brigman doing the design work, they've already scored a sales gig at walmart.com, thanks in part to a vote by American shoppers. Now they have a 20 percent shot at getting the $99.95 bedding sets on the ubiquitous superstore's shelves. Legends is one of five finalists in Walmart's second Get on the Shelf contest, and that is about as big as breaks get. "It's every entrepreneur's dream to sell to the world's number one retailer," Bursteen said. "It means the difference between taking the stairs up to success or a quick ride up the elevator." And it all came together in less than a year. First came Elvis himself. About a year ago, Bursteen, an Elvis memorabilia collector, and Brigman were kicking around the idea of a bedding line focused on entertainment-industry icons. The King immediately came to mind, so Bursteen, a former producer and distributor of independent films, contacted Elvis Presley Enterprises in Memphis. "I sent them an email and asked if the (bedding) category was available. I got a one-word email back that said, "Yes," Bursteen recalled. "The category was wide open, much to our surprise." Bursteen and his twin brother, Alan, a producer and distributor and a silent partner in this venture, bought the licensing rights from EPE for just north of $600,000. In addition to the initial investment, they pay EPE a royalty based on wholesale sales. Then Bursteen made a product pitch to Walmart and got the standard rejection letter. "A no means no on paper, but to me it means a maybe -- and a yes waiting to happen." He kept in touch with the company and eventually decided to enter the multistage contest online. But Legends was among thousands of entrepreneurs -- Walmart won't disclose the exact number -- who uploaded short videos detailing their products. Early last month, after judges rated the entries on everything from salability to synergy with business goals, he was notified that he'd won his category and made it to the final five. The Elvis connection helped his cause, he said, as EPE put out a Facebook blast to its 9 million-plus fans featuring pictures of the product and the video Walmart made of Bursteen and Brigman's product pitch. "It got 68,000 likes in a 24-hour period," he said. "I knew we had the strength of all the Elvis Presley fans." Before EPE -- which is represented by more than 250 vendors worldwide -- would sign off on a production run, Legends' Elvis bedding had to pass a company evaluation. "It looks good and is of great quality, which is one of the things we ensure before we start working with someone on a product," said EPE spokesman Kevin Kern. "This is one of our newest licensees, and they have come out of the gate quite quickly. We're excited and impressed with their success. They have the Elvis fans to thank for that." The other four finalists are the Chemo Beanie, designed by a cancer survivor as a fashionable way to address the hair loss of chemotherapy; Skribs customizable wristband, to display one's muse of the moment; Gibi pet GPS; and BluTrack, bendable model race car tracks that kids can customize. The grand-prize-winning product, picked after the contest closes next week and determined by the most orders placed at getontheshelf.com, will actually make it to store shelves. But Walmart spokesman Ravi Jariwala notes all five are already winners because their products made it to the company website. "Getting into Walmart is a dream of any small business or entrepreneur out there, to sell to more than 140 million customers on a weekly basis," he said. "That kind of exposure can really change lives." But what about a king-size set of the King's bedding. Bursteen points out that's coming sometime next year, adding that the company has only just begun. "Elvis will be a mainstay, but we will have other legends in and out (of the line)," he said. "So there is the potential for this to be big -- and what better place to make that happen than Walmart?"