Oriental Trading Company

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Oriental Trading Company
Industry Direct Marketing
Founded 1932
Founder Harry Watanabe
Headquarters Omaha, Nebraska
Area served
Products 40,000
Owner Berkshire Hathaway
Website orientaltrading.com

The Oriental Trading Company is a direct marketing company for novelties, small toys, and party items. It was founded in 1932 as one of the United States' first wholesale companies. It is based in Omaha, Nebraska, and its majority owner is Berkshire Hathaway.


The company was founded as a gift shop in 1932 in Omaha, Nebraska by Harry Watanabe. The company expanded to 17 shops in the Midwest. During World War II, with restrictions against imports from Japan, the company shrank back to its Omaha base. Watanabe then bought a ceramic shop which made Kewpie dolls and other ceramic items.[1]

In 1954 it resumed its imports from Japan and was a major carnival supplier and in 1956 it launched its first catalog.[citation needed]

In 1977 Watanabe's son Terry Watanabe became president and its focus shifted from carnivals to supplying party goods for churches, schools, retailers, and individuals.[citation needed]

In 2000, Watanabe sold his entire stake in the company to Los Angeles-based private equity firm Brentwood Associates, and resigned as CEO and President. [2]

In 2006 Carlyle Group bought 68 percent interest in the company with Brentwood owning a reported 25 percent.[3]

On August 24, 2010, Oriental Trading Company via OTC Holdings Corp. declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[4]

On November 2, 2012 Berkshire Hathaway announced they would acquire the company.[5][6]

Popular Culture[edit]

The company's CEO was featured in the March 10, 2012 episode of the TV show 'Undercover Boss'.[7]


  1. ^ "About Oriental Trading". Oriental Trading. Retrieved July 6, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Metro/Region". Omaha.com. Retrieved 2010-09-28. [dead link]
  3. ^ Oriental Trading Sold multichannelmerchant.com - June 13, 2006
  4. ^ McCarty, Dawn (2010-08-25). "Oriental Trading Co. Files for Bankruptcy in Delaware". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  5. ^ Michael J. De La Merced (November 2, 2012). "Berkshire to Buy Oriental Trading Company". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ "Berkshire Hathaway to Acquire Oriental Trading Company" (PDF) (Press release). Berkshire Hathaway. November 2, 2012. 
  7. ^ Fastenberg, Dan (March 12, 2012). "Workers At Party Supply Company Far From Festive During 'Undercover Boss' Episode". AOL. Retrieved July 6, 2014. 

External links[edit]