NiteKites soar at Hampton Beach
Creators of popular kite open up local beach shop
By Max Sullivan
Hampton Union, July 22, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON BEACH — All it took was a sewing needle, lights and a kite. Five years later, Jim Ruscoe and Dawn Lord have sold more than 2,000 of their NiteKites, an award winning illuminated kite that is durable, affordable and now for sale in the couple's new Hampton Beach kite shop, Nocturnal Sports.
Nocturnal kite flying isn't a new concept, but Ruscoe said that many products on the market today are not up to par.
For one thing, illuminated kites are limited mostly to the delta design, meaning they float in place. Secondly, Ruscoe said that many illuminated kites are expensive (typically going for $200 to $600) and often have lights that are held together with tape or Velcro, which can be faulty and fail while in flight.
Ruscoe addressed those issues with his NiteKite, which can move at 100 mph and features a remote control, which changes the flashing light patterns on the kite mid-flight.
Working with kites provided by HQ Kites & Designs USA, Ruscoe said he sews LED lights onto to the kites, doing away with the faulty tape and Velcro. By doing the work themselves, he and Lord are able to cut labor costs and sell the kites for just $90.
The NiteKite was named the Kite Trade Association International Best New Product 2012, and Ruscoe said its flying off the shelf so fast he can barely keep up.
"I would trade my kingdom for a truckload of lighted kites, because I can't keep up with the orders by myself," Ruscoe said.
The NiteKite story began in 2008 while Ruscoe and Lord were vacationing in Cape Cod. The couple was flying a kite with Lord's brother-in-law on the beach when they noticed another kite tied to a bench, unattended to. When nighttime fell, the three decided to attach glow sticks to that kite with packing tape.
"The next thing you know, you had 20 people hanging out saying, 'That's cool as hell,'" Ruscoe said.
Shortly after, Ruscoe began experimenting with attaching LED lights onto kites including making one that had "more lights on it than a Christmas tree."
Every time he flew the kite, people would ask where he got it.
Ruscoe, a career marina manager, said his hobby as a "weekend (kite) engineer" soon became a full-time job, especially after he perfected the NiteKite.
By 2012, he'd found himself in Las Vegas at the Kite Trade Association International trade show, where he grossed $14,000 in NiteKites in just eight hours.
"All of a sudden, I'm stuck with this, 'Oh my god, I'm in the kite business,'" Ruscoe said.
The success of online sales is what led Ruscoe and Lord to open up their own shop.
Hampton Beach, they said, was the perfect location. Not only does it have a beautiful beach, but the couple said there wasn't another kite shop on the strip.
Hooked on the idea of becoming Hampton's kite hub, they found their current space next to the Sea Ketch and moved in.
Ruscoe and Lord said they're eager to introduce newbies to kite flying. If someone buys a kite at their store, Ruscoe said he's more than willing to walk across the street to the beach with them and show them how to get started.
Lord said the NiteKites appeal especially to boys and young men who are new to kiting.
"A lot of guys in their early 20s looking for speed," Lord said. "They are so excited, so jazzed afterwards. They're like, 'This is the coolest thing I've ever done.' We've introduced them to a whole new world."
Ruscoe said Nocturnal Sports will be starting a Kickstarter campaign in the near future.
Ruscoe said he'd like to buy a small warehouse and possibly hire some help so that he doesn't have to make the NiteKites by hand. This would allow him to focus more on marketing, he said.
You can find Nocturnal Sports in the far right corner of "Tent City," the group of shops that sit next to the Sea Ketch at 125 Ocean Boulevard.