Macomb man in Walmart entrepreneur contest for outdoor game idea

Macomb Township resident Steve Goebel with the game he created called Phloops.

A Macomb County man has invented a fun, outdoor game that may soon show up on the shelves of your local Walmart store.

Steve Goebel, inventor of a game called Phloops, has entered his idea in Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” competition.

The purpose of the contest was to give entrepreneurs a chance to get noticed and have their products available on walmart.com and even in stores.

“We’re up against the big boys,” said Goebel. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

This is the second year Walmart has held the competition. The superstore received thousands of submissions from entrepreneurs across the country.

The top 20 finalists will be determined based on the number of votes each participant gets via Facebook, and from there contestants will be narrowed down to the top five, with one grand-prize winner.

“There are different categories,” said Goebel. “We’re up against roughly 115 other toys and games.”

So what is Phloops exactly?

It takes the basic ring toss game and adds a new twist. It combines both skill and luck, and is fun for the entire family.

The game pieces consist of two bases, each with three posts, and “Phlingers” that have a tri-ring design.

“It’s simple, clean and easy,” said Goebel. “It’s as much skill as it is luck.”

According to Goebel, the game goes something like this; each team (consisting of two to eight players) gets points depending on how many rings they get around the three posts. The first team to 21 points, without going over, wins.

“If you go over 21, you get that number deducted from your current score,” he said. “So if you have 19 and hit a three, you drop down to 16. It makes it more competitive and there aren’t any blowouts.”

Goebel, who’s worked in the auto industry for roughly the last 40 years, came up with the idea for Phloops out of thin air.

“I’m in bed, about three-quarters of the way asleep and this idea popped into my head,” he said. “I got a Post-it note, sketched out my idea and went back to bed.”

When Goebel woke up the next morning he explained his idea to his wife (and business partner) Karen.

“I told her this is it,” he said. “This is the coolest game.”

He spent the next month designing the prototype, however he had yet to test it.

“We had the kids over for Easter (2012) and they loved it,” said Goebel.

With the support of his family, he traveled to trade shows in Traverse City, Illinois and Las Vegas, where he said he received mostly positive feedback.

“I received a lot of encouragement,” he said, “a lot of good feedback.”

The Goebels are funding the production of the game with their own money and it’s currently in the final phases of production.

“We’re hoping to ship the first pieces by Sept. 1,” he said. “It’s produced domestically and is made of FDA-approved polyethylene.”

A portion of all the proceeds Phloops generates will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

The idea is patent pending, and Goebel has already trademarked “Phloops” and the slogan: “Just Phlippin’ Phun.”

Voting for Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” contest ends Sept. 2. To vote, visit www.getontheshelf.walmart.com/product/1472/Phloops or go to www.phloops.com, where there is a link that will direct you to the voting page.

By ROSS RAYBIN

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