From Humble Beginnings to a World of Fun

80 Years of fun

Humble Beginnings and Fun Statistics

Founded in 1932 in Omaha, Nebraska by Japanese immigrant, Harry Watanabe, Oriental Trading Company was one of the nation's first wholesale providers of novelties and gifts.

Just ten years later, the purchase of a ceramics factory allowed the company to place greater emphasis on value-priced toys, positioning itself as a major supplier to the U.S. carnival trade.

The first catalog was introduced in 1954, greatly simplifying the order process. This proved to be a major catalyst for growth over the next two decades, and Oriental Trading Company expanded its customer base beyond carnival operators by 1977, using direct mail marketing to target schools, teachers, retailers and businesses.

The first toll-free telephone number and the introduction of seasonal catalogs brought continued growth throughout the 1980s, and the company exceeded 1,000 employees in 1992. This overall growth created the need for expansion, so an additional warehouse was added to keep up with demand.

Soon after, Fun Express-a commercial sales division-was created to support larger clients like Disney, Applebee's, IHOP, Dairy Queen and Chuck E. Cheese's.

As the Internet grew in popularity, orientaltrading.com was launched in the late 1990s, and by 2001, the company fulfilled its one-millionth online order and was named one of the Top 100 Internet Retailers by the National Retail Federation.

To keep pace with expanding product lines and massive incoming orders, the company broke ground in 2005 on its state-of-the-art fulfillment center in La Vista, Nebraska. This expansive distribution center boasts many world-class characteristics, such as:

This incredible facility sits on a 120 acre parcel of land and is 750,000 square feet – that’s larger than 12 football fields!

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway saw the tremendous value and growth opportunity in Oriental Trading and made the decision to purchase the company in 2012. Shortly after, Oriental Trading acquired two companies that aligned with its mission to make the world more fun. MindWare, a manufacturer, wholesaler and direct retailer of "brainy toys for kids of all ages" joined the organization in 2013. Then, in 2014, Oriental Trading acquired SmileMakers, a leading brand specializing in patient giveaways and promotion products for dentists and doctors.

Oriental Trading continued its growth while better meeting the needs of customers by launching several new brands in 2017. Marry Me offers a wide variety of wedding must-haves and inspirational ideas to make planning all your big day celebrations easier and more affordable. Learn365 singularly focuses on making learning fun for less, providing thousands of built-to-last education essentials at best-in-class prices. Fun365 is a one-of-a-kind inspiration destination that features thousands of share-worthy craft and party ideas, each one including a digital shopping list with all the needed supplies. Lastly, CustomFun365 outfits guests with value-priced, custom-made apparel perfect for any group and every occasion.

Today, the company continues to serve millions of customers through catalogs and websites, offering more than 40,000 products to individuals, teachers, schools, churches, businesses and nonprofits.

Milestones