Zoltar fortune-teller machines can be found across the US from the Santa Monica Pier to the Las Vegas Strip and as far as Coney Island in New York. It seems like it would take a huge operation to get these fortune-tellers in hundreds of locations across the country, right? Well…not actually.

Zoltar fortune-tellers are individually made by hand in my quaint hometown of Boulder City, Nevada. Characters Unlimited Inc. produces other characters, both inanimate and animatronic, that are advertised to “make your business an attraction.” But inarguably, their most popular product is the classic and nostalgic Zoltar fortune-teller machine.

I decided to reach out to Characters Unlimited Inc. about a potential internship after the Liberty Mutual commercial that aired in July of 2019. After that commercial, Zoltar kind of took off and Characters Unlimited Inc. got thousands of dollars in free advertising every time the commercial aired. I was super curious about the company’s marketing and how they were going to continue to run with this new widespread recognition and publicity.

During my four-week internship period, I worked alongside the head of everything relating to marketing, brand management, and public relations. Because the company is so small, with only about 15 employees, my supervisor is the only person in the office that monitors any marketing and advertising decisions. I liked working in this small work environment because it allowed me to be more involved and hands-on and allowed my ideas to be heard.

I highly recommend working for a small, family-owned business. I found that there is so much room for growth and lucky for me, I joined the team right when new opportunities began to present themselves and the business was taking off. Characters Unlimited Inc. owns the trademark to Zoltar, so anything Zoltar, socks, t-shirts, keychains, slot machines, props for commercials, etc., goes through Characters Unlimited Inc. first. I learned all about working with a licensing agency and was able to communicate directly with them about terms and conditions for upcoming Zoltar slot machines being placed in Las Vegas casinos. Characters Unlimited Inc. makes a profit for doing nothing more than granting other businesses the rights to use the Zoltar name and likeliness.

Part of my work for Characters Unlimited Inc. allowed me to communicate with several big-name companies like T-Mobile and Paramount, about potential future Zoltar collaborations. I was completely taken back by the high demand of companies wanting rights to the Zoltar trademark. My biggest takeaway was that having the trademark to something as big as Zoltar requires a lot of communication, both with the companies requesting rights and the licensing agency.

One last takeaway from my internship with Characters Unlimited Inc. is the importance of communication skills when it comes to sales. I had the opportunity to attend a tradeshow in Las Vegas and learned first-hand how to work face-to-face sales. I think my background in Strategic and Corporate Communication at Chapman really translated well when it came to talking with potential customers. This experience was very fast-paced and exciting and made me want to learn more about sales strategies.

Overall, my experience with Characters Unlimited Inc. was very pleasant. Working for a small, family-owned business allowed me to feel like I was a crucial part of the team and that the work I was contributing really mattered. I also believe that a pro of working for a small business is to be able to have the chance to create major change and growth in the company; something I find really special and rewarding.