Before Chris Easter and Bob Horner were brothers-in-law, they became business partners. When they launched The Man Registry, a website with more than 3,000 gifts that appeal to grooms, Easter was two months away from marrying Horner's younger sister. It was then that the two became aware of what they saw as an appalling lack of guy-friendly gifts on traditional registries and decided to do something about it. "We're all about groom involvement in the whole process," says Horner. So in March 2008 he and Easter teamed up with several retailers that offered gifts for guys, such as sports apparel, grilling accessories, and the always popular remote control beer cooler. Orders are placed through The Man Registry and then the retailer ships the items directly to the customer, allowing Easter and Horner to avoid the burden of maintaining inventory.
The site has since evolved beyond a registry service, to offer advice to grooms on everything wedding-related, as well as guides to local wedding vendors, and ideas for groomsmen gifts. "The market for brides in the wedding industry is huge, but there wasn't really anything that was specifically for the groom," says Easter. "As we learned more about the industry, we saw there was definitely room for us to corner everything groom-related."
The site grew organically, mostly through word of mouth from satisfied users, and quickly garnered the attention of wedding industry giants such as TheKnot.com. The Man Registry makes money primarily through advertising revenue; Easter says it's an easy sell because many companies are eager to target the niche male audience within the larger wedding industry. Retailers such as Bass Pro Shop and Louisville sluggers have contacted Easter and Horner, eager to have their product offerings featured on the site; Easter says they can hardly keep up with the incoming requests. At present, 25 vendors sell products on the site.
This year, Easter predicts that sales will triple compared with 2009. The Man Registry's audience continues to grow. The company says it now has nearly 9,000 registered users and draws an average of 60,000 unique visitors a month.
Looking ahead, the brothers-in-law hope to position themselves beyond the groom subset as a gift destination for men in general. (Think Father's Day and Christmas.) But the pair really knew they hit on something when brides started writing in with positive feedback. "The brides are just as excited as their grooms that they now have a way to get them involved," says Horner.