Ever think about who has to make those giant bows you see in commercials and in new car showrooms? They’re the specialty of a company in California. They supply the trademark bows you see in Lexus commercials, but they’ve produced the festive knots for a dozen other manufacturers, too.
Holiday sales are a vital part of the profitability of automobile manufacturers. The most visible push automakers put on occurs from roughly the Thanksgiving holiday through Presidents Day in February. Almost every automaker’s and dealership’s marketing plan falls back heavily on one image: Their newest models with a huge red holiday bow on top. As it turns out, those holiday bows have an interesting backstory.
The big car bow started as an American idea and product quickly copied by low-cost manufacturers overseas. The bows range in price from about $20 to roughly the high three figures for the largest and most fancy. It can be a bit more affordable for retailers and wholesalers in need of bows to purchase them from suppliers outside of the U.S. However, small businesses in America have been keeping market share in the huge car bow world by making their bows special.
Jan Kingaard is the CEO of King Size Bows. “People always say they didn’t know where the bows on game shows and tv series come from,” said Jan. “Most are surprised that this is actually a business that makes the bows individually rather than mass produced by machine overseas. We love the heartfelt reaction people have at the sight of one of our great big beautiful bows. It is a memorable experience.”
The Kingaard’s family business has been the company responsible for the making the signature Lexus bows used in its holiday commercials for the better part of a decade. King Size Bows’ specialty is a multi-loop bow. Jan says, “There is a whole bow language most people don’t speak,” and that the special qualities of her bows are what makes them competitive.
The King Size Bow company is now entering its 17th year. “Our team makes the bows and loops in our Costa Mesa, California studio on ‘auto-row’, and ships them across the US and around the world,” said Amber Hughes, Jan’s daughter, and company president. King Size Bows supplies bows to Hyundai, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Land Rover, Bentley, Ford, Ferrari, Jeep, Chevrolet, and Mini dealerships in addition to Lexus. Jan says the bows are so popular, customers expect to keep them when they buy the car.
King Size Bow is not alone. Another American company with a focus on big bows is also thriving. In 2012, Car Bow Store began making its big car bows in Warminster, Pennsylvania. Michael Rudolph, co-founder of the Car Bow Store, provided his “unbiased” opinion on the quality of domestic versus imported bows, saying, “The imported car bows aren’t something you would be proud to put on a car. They are flimsy, the ribbon is semi-transparent, and they have glue splattered all over them…We make a quality product that you can be proud to put on your car.” He went on to add, “Our craftsmanship, materials, and quality control are what sets us apart and has been responsible for our success.”
Whether it was the American-made aspect or the quality, Car Bow Store’s business has grown rapidly. Rudolph says, “Our first year, we sold about 5,000 bows…Once the word got out about us things really took off. We now sell about 25,000 giant bows per year.”
Do you need a big bow and want to take a stab at making it yourself? You’re going to need some big ribbon material or colored poster boards, scissors, a thin ruler, a hot glue gun, and a dash of arts and crafts talent. The cheeky video above walks you through the steps.
Top of page mage by John Goreham