Video Publisher? Or Online Retailer? The Answer Is “Both!” And More…
Right Stuf, Inc. is an independent video publisher that specializes in packaging and distributing pre-recorded programming to English-language audiences – from Japanese animation (anime) to foreign live-action content.
In addition to selling its own publishing division’s products, Right Stuf, Inc. also resells and distributes anime-related and Asian live-action merchandise – including DVDs, Blu-ray discs, books, apparel, artwork, audio CDs and more – on behalf of other North American suppliers.
Right Stuf’s unique position as a publisher, distributor and retailer gives it a distinct advantage in the anime marketplace, as it operates in both the business-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors. Right Stuf is the largest of North America’s anime-specific retail and distribution companies, selling products both direct to fans and to other retailers, via its web site, phone and mail-order. It also provides business services for firms throughout the North American anime industry, from phone banks and data entry to demographic research, the creation of online storefronts, and more.
Right Stuf's History
Right Stuf got its start in 1987, when Robert Ferson, a Des Moines, Iowa-based entrepreneur, decided to start a company to purchase and resell telescopes. The priorities of the fledgling business soon shifted as he began to search for Astro Boy, an anime that was one of his childhood, cartoon favorites. Right Stuf, which (at the time) consisted of Mr. Ferson and present CEO Shawne Kleckner, eventually acquired the title for the North American market. Astro Boy’s first home video release, in 1989, positions it as one of the first publishers in the United States’ domestic anime industry.
The market began to expand during the next few years, as other companies released more recent Japanese programming with both English and Japanese audio and with English subtitles. Building upon its successful release of Astro Boy, Right Stuf focused on acquiring and releasing classic Japanese animation of the 1960s, including Gigantor, Kimba the White Lion, and Tobor the 8th Man. These nostalgia programs propelled the company through its early years of growth, and they continue to be popular titles. With the increased availability of more modern programming in the early 1990s, Right Stuf’s team recognized the growing demand for anime beyond the classic 1960s shows. The company began to acquire newer releases, starting with the classic film Toward the Terra in 1994. Other expansions to its product line included the creation of the AnimeTrax label (anime soundtracks, 2001), a growing line of anime merchandise, and its newly formed label for live-action programming, 5 Points Pictures.
In the early days of the product category, and prior to the advent of online sales, anime was hard to find at traditional, brick-and-mortar retailers. To reach those anime (and Astro Boy!) fans, Right Stuf launched its mail-order division in 1989. It soon began to offer products from other vendors, alongside its own, to both fans and wholesale accounts via a print catalog and online storefront.
Right Stuf also expanded its operations through acquisitions, strategic partnerships and exclusive agreements with other publishers to handle their customer inquiries, data entry, online presence, order fulfillment and more. Inc. magazine recognized Right Stuf as one of the fastest-growing, privately-held companies in the United States, in 1999. This growth continued in 2005, as the entire company relocated to a 76,000 square-foot office and distribution center that expanded all of its division’s capabilities.
Looking Forward to the Next 25 Years!
Today, Right Stuf’s intertwined divisions continue to thrive.
RightStuf.com, the primary online storefront is the largest online anime specialty retailer in the United States and Canada, offering more than 24,000 unique products from across the North American anime industry. It is also a source to which fans turn for official news and product updates. The site’s annual sales are supported by a mix of online sales events, traditional and grassroots marketing, and direct-mail programs that include the Right Stuf print catalog, which is published three times a year. Its growing online sales portfolio includes Zstore.com, an online sales engine for anime and merchandise. And it is a trusted distribution and business services partner for several of the industry’s major video and print publishers.
The demographic data Right Stuf generates via its retail operation provides it with a strategic advantage as it selects and markets content for the studios of its own publishing division. Right Stuf-produced programming and merchandise are carried by retailers across the U.S. and Canada, as well as major video, Internet and comic book wholesalers.
Its success as an online retailer and business services provider, plus its roster of critically and fan-acclaimed acquisitions, all position Right Stuf to further capitalize on industry trends, as it enters its next 25 years!
More About Right Stuf
For more information on the history of Right Stuf, check out the 2 part retrospective of the "20 Years of Right Stuf" as published in the Spring and Fall catalogs of 2007.