Minneapolis shop selling traditional wood toy seeing a spike in interest during pandemic

As the response to the COVID-19 pandemic shuts down schools, playgrounds, youth sports, and other sources of entertainment for kids, an old school game is making a comeback.

The kendama, a wooden game that dates back to the 17th century in Japan, are in demand as kids and parents alike search for ways to fill free time.

If you've played, you'd recognize the clack immediately. And it's a game that works inside, outside, alone, or six feet apart from your friends.

"It helps a lot right now because you can go like in your backyard and play it after your school work and stuff or if you’re just tired of being inside," said Angelo King.

"It can help with a lot of things, hand-eye coordination and multiple, just multiple things to do you can do it when you’re bored," added Jack Stratman.

"After I’m done with school, I can start playing again and learning new tricks and stuff," agreed Logan Hudson.

Minneapolis-based Sweets Kendamas has seen a real boom in business, sending damas out all over the world during COVID-19. From kids to adults, a lot of people are seeking out the old-fashioned game during the pandemic.

"We’re seeing a lot of new users which we’re really excited about," said Matt "Sweets" Jorgenson of Sweets Kendamas. "A lot of new people are trying it out for the first time and we really think it’s because they finally have enough time to fit it into their schedule and to give it a chance."

At the shop, they design and add a secret clearcoat that is the real draw of the Sweets-brand kendamas. Jorgensen has been designing and selling kendamas for ten years now. He’s in small stores and now even Target.

But online is where it’s at right now, which is okay because he’s actually seeing the people playing.

"We have daily tricks that we like to send out that people can try to improve their skills," he explained. "We have a lot of people responding to us, showing us their progression daily."

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