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Two-Fisted Drink Dispenser : Fair Is Fertile Ground for Entrepreneur

Times Staff Writer

The hottest-selling item at the Del Mar Fair this year is a gizmo that makes life easier for thirsty baseball fans and beachgoers, according to the developer of the Double Header Beverage Helmet.

The helmet works like this: Tubes lead from two beverage containers on a baseball cap to a long straw with an on-off switch, allowing the sunbather to control the flow of chablis or the baseball fan to hold a hot dog in each hand while drinking two beers simultaneously.

Michael Del Rey, 25, who calls himself an “entrepreneur student” who “sort of” lives in Newport Beach, said the beverage helmet will be big with yuppies at the beach this summer. He described his customers as “your La Jolla crowd.” He added, “It’s for people who want to go to the beach and sit back and read the Harvard Business Review.”

Del Rey said 7,000 to 10,000 helmets have been sold nationwide, for $15.95 to $16.95 apiece. Each one is mounted on a baseball cap representing Southern California baseball teams. He said they are big with Padres fans. There are different sizes to hold soft drink cans, mixed drink glasses or small bottles of champagne.

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One model is designed for the beers sold at baseball games and the Padres’ victories have helped sell the helmet. But with this product, according to Del Rey, “If Steve Garvey doesn’t hit a home run by the seventh inning, you probably don’t care.”

He developed the helmet with two San Diego women, Becky Bryom and inventor Nancy Shields. “The hat was born here and gained national attention here,” he said. “It will be the first fad San Diego County has started nationally.”

He said his father, Ernie Del Rey, who owns a property management firm in Orange County, financed the fad.

The biggest market, Del Rey said, is the Orange County flea market where he sells about 100 per weekend.

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For now Del Rey, 25, is spending all his time at the Del Mar Fair, where he has sold about 300 helmets.

“I love the fair business because I’m hyperactive,” he said. “This is fun.”

Attendance at the 105th annual Del Mar Fair is up 17% from last year and media director Jim Stewart gives the credit to the weather, the new Fun Zone and the big-name grandstand acts. By Tuesday, 222,000 people had attended the fair.


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