Entries tagged with “yo-yo”.

From my perspective as a professional yo-yo man, it sure seems as if yo-yos are recession proof.  As the economy tanked almost everyone suffered, and I am no exception. However, for the last two years I have seen an interesting trend in my business. While it has gotten increasingly difficult to book shows, when I can actually get my foot in the door and get in front of an audience, they are buying yo-yos like crazy.


I make my living as an entertainer.  In general the way it works is that people hire me to come and perform my show at an event. I get hired for a wide variety of gatherings: it could be anything from a local library show, a school, a company picnic or holiday party to an international festival in Shanghai China or a trade show in Australia.  I have been around the world with a yo-yo in my pocket, but I mostly work in the Midwest of the United States.  While my main product is my show, I always have yo-yos for sale afterward if I can.  It’s a nice way to let people take a piece of the show home with them, enjoy a part of our national cultural heritage, and have fun with a new toy. For me of course, yo-yo sales allow me to have a little extra money in my pocket, and until the recession hit, “little” was usually the operative word.


So why are yo-yos selling so well now? I think that there are several reasons:

  • Yo-yos are cheap.  You can get a lot of fun out of a $5 or $10 yo-yo, and it’s a lot easier on a strained budget to spend even $50 on a really nice yo-yo than to drop hundreds of dollars on a new videogame system.
  • Yo-yos are fun. You get an immediate shot of fun injected directly into your brain.
  • Yo-yos are easy. Almost anyone can learn a few cool tricks with only minimal instruction, and if you have access to a professional or the internet, you can learn even more.
  • Exercise. While yo-yoing is nothing like doing the decathlon, it is physical activity, and a lot of people are looking for any way to keep kids (or adults for that matter) active.
  • Boost hand-eye coordination. There is no doubt that yo-yos are good for this.
  • Yo-yos are social. Especially in a school environment, yo-yos lead to more social interaction. One person knows how to do a specific trick, so other people come to them for pointers. I had one Principal who was thrilled with the massive inter-grade socialization that happened at her school after I had performed and taught workshops there.
  • People are simplifying. Yo-yos are a classic part of American culture, and remind us of simpler times. They let you feel like you are getting back to basics, and taking part in our traditional culture.

I should point out that I am certainly not getting rich off yo-yo sales, especially since getting in the door to do a show in the first place is still difficult, but yo-yo sales have helped me get through this slow economy. I think it’s fascinating how our behavior changes in hard times. I’ve always known that yo-yos were incredibly cool, and as a professional yo-yo man it’s extremely gratifying that when times get tough, and we as a nation look for entertainment, yo-yos are the comfort food of the toy world.



Mark Hayward is a full-time professional yo-yo man, and he also runs howtoyoyo.com where you can buy your own yo-yo, and learn how to use it. For  more on Mark’s show, and booking information check out www.markhayward.net



I launched a sale today at www.howtoyoyo.com.  It runs until the end of April and involves a whole new set of yo-yos that haven’t been offered for sale on the site before.  They are all priced below retail (kind of the definition of a sale really), but then you ALSO get 1/2 price shipping if you order one of the sale items.  I know!  It’s so exciting I’m about to pop.  No one likes paying for shipping though, so it’s actually pretty cool.


Check out all the hot yo-yo action at the April Yo-yo Madness headquarters.

I have reached a new plateau in my semi-fame. This is even better than when a kid put my photo on his birthday cake.  I got a facebook message and a photo text telling me about it last night.  My buddies Takeshi, Jack Ringca, and Drew Tetz are on the road right now with the Duncan Heritage Tour and yesterday a kid showed up to their demo in Brookfield WI in his Halloween costume, dressed as me.  Fake glasses, cool-guy shirt, hat, and a markered-in soul-patch beard to boot.  Just to make sure everyone knew who he was, he was wearing my current trading card like a name tag.  Awesome.  I am so honored.

He saw me at the Wisconsin State Fair this summer, and has gotten really into yo-yos lately.  Apparently I gave him a trading card at the fair.  Here is the photo he was working from:

The back of my new trading card:

and here is the front:

That’s right!  Not only is my new trading card out, but it has a SUPER-AWESOME photo on the front taken by the world famous yo-yo master Raphael Matsunaga, aka: Red.  This photo was taken in Takeshi’s living room while Duncan was shooting some new instructional video with Raphael and Takeshi as well as Jack Ringca, Brandon Jackson, Drew Tetz, and Hank Freeman.  It was fun.  I love pictures of me.

I was hoping that all of the recent hubbub with Kenny Strasser might work out well for me by letting me get on TV in my hometown of Madison WI, so I wrote to my favorite local TV station to see if they would be interested in an interview.

With all the attention that Kenny Strasser has been getting lately I thought you folks might like to have a real yo-yo man on your show sometime.  My name is Mark Hayward, I grew up in Madison, and I am a full-time professional juggler and yo-yo man.

I’m sure you will want to do some checking into whether I am the real thing, so I’ve got some easy credentials for you:

– I used to work with Carleen Wild’s [one of the evening newscasters] husband at REI just behind West Towne Mall
– I have been on your show before.  I was the guy doing the talking in the July/August 1999 interview with the MadFive juggling team with Mike McKinney (my hair was long then)
– I have performed in the Kids in the Rotunda/Crossroads show every year for many years.

I grew up in Madison, but live in Pittsburgh now.  I am contacting you now, of course, because of Kenny Strasser.  I don’t know anything about who he is, and I am not part of whatever he is up to, but since he is basically making a big joke out of what I do for a living, I thought you might like to get another side of the story.

I will be travelling near Madison around May 30/31 on my way to an internship with a master spin-top maker in Omaha Nebraska, so I would be glad to come by for an interview if you are interested.

Here’s what they wrote back:

Thanks for the offer. However our producers have decided to pass on
Yo-Yo related  live guests.
Best of luck.

Oh well.  It was worth a try.  Apparently the News Director is sick of the whole yo-yo ordeal.  I asked them to let me know if they ever change their minds.

Yes, it’s true.  Harper and I have finally done it.  You can now buy yo-yos directly on HowToYoYo.com.  It has been the most requested feature for a while now, and since we didn’t want to get into sales on a massive scale, we decided to be a one-stop shop for the beginner/intermediate yo-yo player.  It can be hard to know what to buy when you are just starting out, and since there are so many choices now, we decided to make it easy.  We only carry 5 yo-yos.  It’s a carefully chosen group that we think is the best if you are just getting into yo-yos.

I was doing my new Build-A-Battletop Workshop at the Green Tree PA Library and a kid showed up with a whole case of yo-yos.  It was awesome.  That hasn’t happened in a long time.  I think these rumors of a returning yo-yo craze might just be true.

So this kid (Ricky I think) had a FAST 201 that he had modded, but what I really liked about it was that it was a style mod and not a playability mod.  Although I don’t know how it played since he had lost his bearing and spacers.  Oh well.  Anyway, his mod was to put soft-drink tabs under the plastic sidecap.  I thought it looked really cool, so I took a picture for the good folks over at Yo-yo Factory.

Miamisburg was fun!  There’s nothing like getting free drinks at the local bar because you’re hanging out with the Pastor.  It was really fun to see Mike Hout in his official capacity, which was surprisingly the same as how he is when we hang out at juggling and yo-yo conventions, only he had on nicer clothes.

Here are some photos of our raucous time:

It’s the TOP hat bistro… get it?

That’s right… I may not be the first visitor to the Top Spinning Hall of Fame, but I’m the first one to get my photo taken in front of the sign!
(You’d be bleary-eyed too if you’d been up all night carousing with Pastor Mike.)

I couldn’t resist stopping for a waffle snack on the way home. It was delicious.

For the celebration of 80 years of Duncan Yo-yos a massive set of demonstrator trading cards came out, and one card has been included in each entry-level yo-yo. My Duncan pals and I have been looking for our own cards in the stores, and I just found mine this weekend! It was pretty cool.

Here’s what the card looks like:

I managed to get myself on National TV once again! Check it out:

It was great fun hanging out with Bob Rule and getting the stories from the old days of yo-yo demonstrations. Of course it’s fun hanging with the other guys in the tour van, but they’re no Bob Rule. You can see Bob’s website at www.mryoyo.com