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CITY FOCUS:Thick, but the sippin’s easy

It took the threat of a $260 ticket for Laguna Beach resident Natalie Buketov to start her profit-turning business, the Monster Straw Company.

Buketov said she was annoyed by the difficulty of drinking blended coffees, shakes and smoothies through standard-sized straws.

One day, as she struggled with a drink near the Huntington Beach pier, she became so frustrated that she threw it to the trash can — and she missed her mark. A Huntington Beach police officer approached her and threatened to ticket Buketov for littering.

It was then, the Los Angeles native said, that she realized all of her blended beverage woes could be solved with one simple solution — a bigger straw. After finding a financial backer to help with the investment, the Monster Straw company was born.

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Monster Straws are about half-an-inch wide and allow easy sipping of thick drinks or drinks with chunks.

Although the company only officially launched in early January, Buketov said more than 50 million Monster Straws have been made, and nearly 200 buyers from California to Maine have ordered the product off the internet.

Though Buketov runs Monster Straws from a small home office off So. Coast Highway, the super-sippers are manufactured at plants here in the states in Cleveland and Tennessee and world-wide in Mingbo, China and Ontario, Canada — and it has already turned a profit.

Buketov said most of her customers so far have been small shops and franchises but other businesses such as oral surgeons, nursing homes, and plant nurseries have found numerous uses for her sizable sippers.

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“Our goal is to do a nationwide rollout,” Buketov said.

As a self described entrepreneur, Buketov said she knows an aggressive marketing plan is an important part of that rollout, and already has an iconic child-friendly cartoon monster by the name of Quench on the logo.

Buketov also plans to put the bachelor’s degree she received from USC in cinema and television to good use as she tries to set up monster movie tie-ins and advertising spots on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.

“Kids are our primary market, but adults love us too ‘cause they’re so practical,” Buketov said.

Also planned is what Buketov called “The Monster Straw Competition.” The competition would aim to convert the average beverage enthusiast into true Monster Straw believers by setting up booths where customers would be offered a thick drink with a regular sized straw, and then again with a wider Monster Straw.

The former model said the key to the Monster Straw Company’s future success is being picked up by a large franchise.

“We need to hit someone like Burger King, McDonald’s, Jamba Juice or Starbucks,” Buketov said.

According to Buketov, whichever large company picks the straws up first will have the distinct honor of being known as the “Home of the Monster Straw.”

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Buketov is hopeful her versatile super-sized slurpers will change the way the world enjoys its thick beverages.

“You can even sip your soup on the way to work,” Buketov said.


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