It can be difficult to find anyone holding up a lighter anymore at concerts. There are few smokers, for one thing, and most concertgoers just hold up their phones (annoying anyone behind them not doing the same). There’s an app for everything, apparently.
But that doesn’t mean that lighters aren’t out there. Zippos has continued to crank them out no matter what the music of the day or what exactly needs to be set on fire. The brand just passed a major milestone, celebrating the production of its 500 millionth windproof pocket lighter on June 5th. The event (coincidentally?) fell on the birthday of the Pennsylvania company’s late founder, George G. Blaisdell.
Don’t worry, Zippo fans. The 80-year-old lighter isn't go blazing into the good night. Instead, it was immediately ensconced in the company’s museum, which also contains such artifacts as the first Zippo ever made. Its trip to the museum from the manufacturing plant was an eventful one. It was passed from one employee to the next, all the way through all of the company’s 620 workers, until it reached the hand of current owner George Duke, the grandson of Blaisdell.
“Eighty years ago, my grandfather made sparks fly when he created the first Zippo lighter – 500 million later, I know he would be proud and amazed at just how much the company he dedicated his life to has grown and thrived,” said Duke, shown above ensconcing the historic lighter in the Zippo Case Museum. “This is an extraordinary achievement and a true testament to his dream and vision.”
For consumers, Zippo is producing a collectible copy of the 500 millionth lighter as well as a deluxe limited edition model that will be available next month. Zippo isn’t pinning its future on those two lighters, though. Instead, it is hoping that expansion will help bring in some more bucks. According to the New York Daily News, Zippo is very focused on India and is planning to open a concept store in Mumbai in October.
"In the last three years, India has become a significant market with great potential and we expect it to be one of the key players in the international market,” said Shailesh Sharma, the company's India distributor, according to the Daily News. “The growth in India is predicted to be more than double in the next five years."
Zippo is already in 200 “retail points in India,” the Daily News reports, but the concept store will give it an opportunity to test out new products and brand extensions — in addition to helping Zippo march towards its one billionth lighter.