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Ballentines offer original solar lights

Published: Monday, July 8, 2013 11:22 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, July 8, 2013 11:44 a.m. CST
(Dave Hon/Daily News)
Larry Ballentine stands next to some of his original decorative outdoor lights. More information about his solar lights can be found by calling (641) 792-9611.

Ten years ago, Larry Ballentine was retired and rather bored.

After having a heart attack, Larry had to retire. He took a part-time job at Adventureland.

“I did anything I could do but boredom set it,” Ballentine said. “So I decided to work for Adventureland. It sounded like fun, and it was fun.”

At Adventureland, where Larry worked guessing people’s ages and weights, he got the idea for his decorative outdoor lights. What started as a hobby to stay active has turned into a business for Larry; his son, Kerry; and Larry’s wife, Kathy. Essentially, the trio make decorative outdoor lights with different themes, including sports teams or hunting. A lot of the lamps’ themes come from the various figurines they find in novelty and discount stores.

“We go to a lot of Goodwill and Salvation Armies, every Dollar Tree, every dollar general, every consignment shop you can possibly think of,” Larry said.

One wall of their shop is filled with figurines waiting to be used. Some can’t be used until Larry and Kerry find a matching figurine.

While Larry and Kerry work on the lamps and find the decorations, his wife manages the finances and helps find bulk product. Larry said they try to find the cheapest parts for the amps to keep the cost down.

“She’s on the computer all the time finding us things,” Larry said. “So she does her job, and we do our job, and it just simply works.”

The first lights that Larry made, he used glue to set in most of the parts. Soon he realized that the glue dissolves and started using liquid nails.

The whole unit costs $38, but Larry is expanding to indoor lights as well. Larry said he thinks he’s balanced cost effectiveness with quality.

“We’ve got a good product,” Larry said. “We know it holds up in the weather.”

Larry and Kerry try to attend as many outdoor events as possible to sell the lights. One event they’re looking forward to is Monroe Old Settlers Days, where they say their lights are really popular. Larry and Kerry are proud of their lights and say they’re sales at these events prove that.

“Even with a foot of snow on the solar lights, we’ve seen them charge up and run for four hours,” Kerry said.

They haven’t decided if they are going to be at the Jasper County Fair, since they try to book an event for every weekend.

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