What do you think of when you see these words: Lion, Jungle, Vampire, Electric Eel, Cow, Dragon and Red Panda? I’ll bet the last thing you think is “Oh, they’re names of marbles.” They are indeed, my friend. They are indeed. And they can be found at The Moon Marble Company in Bonner Springs, Kansas.
Having been a marble aficionado as a kid (I spent many a morning playing marbles before school in Kennard), I told Lisa we had to check this place out.
Moon Marble specializes in marbles…and retro toys and games. The store, a converted wood workshop, even makes some of the marbles it sells.
Bruce Breslow, owner and marble magician, started making marbles out of necessity. As a woodworker, Bruce made a lot of pieces that had spare parts of wood. He made games and toys with the leftovers. Realizing the company needed marbles for some of the products, he sought out marbles locally. Local stores had a limited supply.
He ended up ordering his own supply. He told a company to send him a bulk order. Soon after, he had almost 9,000 marbles to play with. They put marbles in the front of the store to sell, and it took off. He ordered more and more marbles, until he earned a reputation.
“People would stop in and ask to see the ‘Marble Guy,’” he joked.
Marbles proved so successful that about 18 years ago, they switched from a wood working shop to a marble and toy store.
Moon Marble Company has been named one of the “8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce,” according to “Kansas Sampler (www.kansassampler.org) because it is the only place in the United States that sells marbles, makes handmade marbles, and offers visitors a chance to watch marbles be made.
We took in a presentation during our visit. Bruce is quite the entertainer. He gets the room energized while he heats the glass and creates a piece of art. The room was packed. A small bench area was full, and people sat in chairs to the side of it.
Watching a marble be made is impressive. Bruce gets the heat to about 2150 degrees Fahrenheit, he said. He mixes colors into the ball while heating it. The result was a sparkling universe-looking marble. That marble, and others he’d make that day, are sold separately from the bulk marbles, and cost a bit more.
The marbles sold in bulk at the store are machine-made. The store orders them from companies in the United States, Mexico and England, he said. Marbles are so popular, the store orders a lot. A few weeks ago, they received a shipment of six tons – about 100,000 marbles.
The store offers displays of the handmade marbles. Some of them have designs, such as the “man on the moon” or a psychedelic style.
Marbles can be used in several pieces of jewelry, too.
The toys and games range from basic to challenging.
I loved the choice of original slinky toys.
The store also offers a choice of classic and current “themed” lunch boxes. We saw “Star Wars,” “Beetlejuice,” and “Doctor Who” lunch boxes. Some of us may “fondly” recall the August “fragrance” in Fremont, Nebraska, that was known as Hormel. I found a “Spam” lunch box.
The store has an eclectic feel to it. I even found something our furry friends could use. What squirrel wouldn’t love its own pair of underwear?
We didn’t leave empty handed. Lisa picked up some smooth stones, similar to worry rocks. I grabbed some of the larger marbles. Unfortunately, I ran into a challenger, who also liked the larger marbles.
We had a great visit to the Moon Marble Company. We definitely recommend making a trip there. Bonner Springs is about 22 miles west of Kansas City on Interstate 70. It’s a quick side trip on a weekend.
For more information on Moon Marble Company, please check out its website at www.moonmarble.com.