What does the future hold for the plastic pink flamingo? If you didn't have one in your front lawn growing up, you surely had a neighbor that had six of them on their front lawn. They first appeared on the scene in 1957, dissapeared in the 70's, made a reappearance in the 80's, and now are on the verge of dissapearing from the world's front lawn forever.
Did you know that as of November 1, 2006 the original manufacturer of the plastic pink flamingo has stopped manufacturing these iconic lawn ornaments?
Did you know they had been manufactured in Leominster, MA for nearly half a century until the plant shut off the molding machines for the last time and shut their doors just about 7 months ago? I know this because I live in Leominster. It's been a sad few months since their closing but we'll all pull together and move on, I promise you that.
Don Featherstone, a young artist, was hired by Union Plastics in Leominster to redesign their two dimensional lawn ornaments into a three dimensional version. His first project was a plastic duck but his fame came when he redesigned the pink flamingo into a three dimensional masterpiece. Little did he know his simple design with the yellow beak and black tip would turn into such a symbol of suburbia and americana with movie features like 1972's Pink Flamingos, websites, fan clubs (maybe not fan clubs but you get the point)...by the way you know it's an original Flamingo by the Don Featherstone signature under the tail. If you don't see that, just turn and run!!!
Back in the seventies cities and towns across America started banning the tacky treasures and as a result of these bans, Union Plastics (later became Union Products) started manufacturing a blue version of the flamingo. Cities and towns caught on and actually expanded their ban to include flamingos of all colors...to think about the amount of time and taxpayer dollars that were actually spent back then on this legislatioin is amazing!!!
What does this have to do with real estate you ask???
And what does this have to do with commercial real estate???
Well it just so happens that the plant where these plastic pieces of American history will be sold at public auction on June 22nd. The former Union Products facility at 511 Lancaster St, Leominster MA sits on over 8 acres of prime commercial land. Sure the price tag will be close to $2M but the development possibilities for this site are endless.
Unfortunately, the molds were sold to a company from New York that intends to resume manufacturing so if your thoughts were to bring this flourescent phenomenon back you're outof luck. I do have to say it just won't be the same when these blow mold beauties start coming off of a different assembly line than that of their original place of origin.
Fear not...you can still find these legends of lawn decoration on Ebay and several other online shopping sites but remember to always ask if the flamingo you are purchasing features the Don Featherstone signature under the tail.
Rob Beland, Apex Properties
Leominster, MA Commercial Real Estate Professional