Kate's Collage
"Vinny Da Vendor"
"Benny Da Buyer"
Kizer & Bender
Memory, Paper & Stamps
Category Reports
Designing Perspectives
Scene & Heard

Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com



Insights on business -- and life.

Printer Version

Felix Bass

Nov 4, 1927 – April 20, 2008

Staff Report (May 5, 2008)

The hobby industry has lost one of its distribution pioneers. Felix V. Bass, 80, passed away quietly on April 20, 2008 after a battle with the effects of diabetes and other associated complications. Inge, his wife of 57 years, was by his side.

Felix was born in 1927 in Vienna, Austria, the only child of a prominent newspaper editor and his wife. On a Sunday in 1938 while Felix and his parents were in a park in Vienna, the Nazi SS swept through the city and rounded up its Jewish citizens. The Bass family was saved by a work colleague of Felix’s father who pulled them out of a march and suggested they pack and leave Austria at once. Felix was 11 years old when the Bass family packed and left in the middle of the night. They boarded a train for various locations across Western Europe through 1938 and into 1939, keeping one step ahead of the Nazis.

After residing in Liechtenstein, Switzerland, France, and England for various time periods, the family was finally able to obtain exit visas for the U.S. from Lisbon Portugal, arriving in the in late 1939. Able to bring only what they could carry from their Vienna home, they were settled on a poultry farm in Vineland , NJ. Felix, by then 13 years of age, was enrolled in school, but knew only the little bit of English he learned in Austria and from his multi-lingual father while residing in England.

Felix later met the daughter of another European family which had settled in Vineland, and eventually they married and moved to Haddonfield, NJ, a suburb of Philadelphia. An accountant by trade, one of Felix’s personal hobbies included stamp collecting. He was an avid philatelist and would purchase stamp collections at shops and auctions, keeping what he needed for his own collection and packaging and selling the remainder to hobby shops in his spare time. He soon realized that while he was selling his surplus stamps, there was also an opportunity to sell other hobby products on those same visits.

Family members loaned he and Inge money to start their distribution business, and soon the basement of their home was filled with various hobby products which Felix sold on his hobby shop rounds. In a short time they outgrew the limited storage space in the basement of their Haddonfield home.

In 1956 they welcomed a daughter, Ruth, and shortly thereafter moved to a larger home in Voorhees, NJ which included an oversized garage, very suitable for their growing fledgling hobby distribution business, now named Felix V. Bass & Co. Inge quit her bookkeeping job to become the office manager of their newly expanded business. They hired some employees and continued to expand their inventory and customer base. In 1958, son Michael was born.

As Bass & Co continued to grow, duties grew numerous and more time-consuming, so Felix took on a partner and subsequently moved the business to an industrial park in Westville, NJ. In 1980 Felix sold his share of his business to his partner in order to open a similar business with son Michael as a partner. Around the kitchen table one night, Mike, Felix, and Inge agreed to name the new hobby distribution company "Stevens International," a combination of Mike’s middle name as well as the international element of their new business. Stevens began as an import model railroad company in the basement of the Bass home which was then in Cherry Hill, NJ. In short time, Stevens was expanded to include model kits, which made a home basement unsuitable for the larger space requirements of plastic models.

In 1982 Stevens International moved into its current location in Magnolia, NJ, a building accidentally discovered by Inge while driving by. Felix diligently built this business with his wife and son beside him, including two expansions of the building to accommodate the ever-growing variety of inventory bought both domestically as well as internationally. Fluent in German from their European roots, Felix and Inge attended the Nurnberg Toy Fair for many years, using their bi-lingual abilities to negotiate distribution rights for various hobby lines not previously sold in the USA.

Inge and Felix continued to be active in Stevens International for years; Inge retiring in the late 1980’s, and Felix scaling back his hours in the 1990’s. Felix continued to work a few hours each week until late 2007, when his health became an issue. Both he and Inge attended the 2007 iHobby Expo in October, 2007, much to the joy of industry colleagues who were afforded the opportunity to shake Felix’s hand one last time.

He will be fondly remembered at that show as he sat in his chair in the aisle satisfied knowing that his fledgling business had grown to what it has become today.

Felix leaves not only his wife, Inge, but also son Mike and his wife Debbi, daughter Ruth and her husband John, as well as four grandchildren: David, Julia, Pamela and Alan.

Cards can be sent to Stevens International, PO Box 126, 706 N White Horse Pike, Magnolia, NJ 08049.



horizontal rule

horizontal rule


Kate's Recent Columns...
HOW A RETAILER CAN HELP A VENDOR CREATE A PRODUCT; Product testing with store customer.

MY VISIT TO SOUTH KOREA; Crafts in a war zone?

A PERSONAL VIEW OF SCHOOL TRAGEDIES; The Newtown Massacre brought back memories.

MEMORIES OF 9/11; A proud but humbling experience.

THE AMERICAN DREAM, UPDATED; Something achieved, something lost: the end of a hard, but wonderful era.


WHAT HALLOWEEN CHARACTERS DO YOU HAVE AT WORK? They're everywhere! They're everywhere!

BOB AND DARWIN; Reprinted from the May 15, 1986 edition of Profitable Craft Merchandising.

EXCERPT: YOU DID WHAT IN THE DITCH? FOLKLORE OF THE AMERICAN QUILTER; An edited version of the author's preface.

ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN; Chapter One from a hot new comedy/mystery novel.

WHERE AND HOW DO WE PERCEIVE BEAUTY? Are we open to unexpected wonder?

THE DUNCAN FAMILY; Winner of CHA's Special Recognition award.


MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND THE POST-50 GENERATION; These are modern...conveniences?

CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE THAT WILL COME SOON; In fact, they're already happening.

WAKING UP IN THE LAND OF GLITTER; Reprinted by permission by Grand Central Publishing. Copyright, 2010.

PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS; Are you ready for the worst?

CRAFT THERAPY COULD INJECT A HEALTHIER BOTTOM LINE; A website that shows how crafts are good for consumers' health, and good for business.

WORKING IN A HOME OFFICE; Benefits, problems, and tips learned the hard way.

INDUSTRY VETERANS KEEP WRITING; Short stories, romance and mystery novels, and reference books.

MOTHER'S DAY SPENDING; Less than last year, but...


LESS SPENDING, MORE CRAFTING; The recession offers a wonderful opportunity for our industry.

A TRIBUTE TO DAVID CUNNINGHAM; Wise words for a remarkable man.

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CRAFTING; Research could open the door to better health for consumers, better sales for the industry.

EMPLOYEE STOCK OWNERSHIP PLANS; Another example of unintended consequences.

SO, WHAT IS EBITDA? A hypothetical example of how it's determined and what it does - and doesn't - mean.

USING YARN TO IMPROVE THE WORLD; Knitting scarves for the Special Olympics and raising funds for the Rwanda Knits project.

WALNUT HOLLOW: AN INDUSTRY AND CONSERVATION LEADER; The company went "green" long before it was popular.

THE FUTURE OF MAKIN'S USA; Changes and improvements are in the works.


CHINA'S DEVELOPMENT AND THE FUTURE OF CHINA-US RELATIONSHIP; The Chinese ambassador's address to the Peoria (IL) Rotary Club.


MEMORIES OF BILL MANGELSEN; With lessons for all importers, businesses, and people.

RWANDA KITS UPDATE; Making a difference, changing lives.

LAST MINUTE CHA SHOW PRODUCT INFO; So many products, so little time.

WHY I SCRAPBOOK; So much more than photos and stickers.

ARE SCRAPBOOKERS CRAZY? Contests, validating lives, and more.

LETTERS FROM THE FIRE ZONE; Safe, relieved, and thankful.

A GLIMPSE INTO THE 2015 RETAILING ENVIRONMENT; Shifting demographics, household downsizing, and new marketing present industry challenges.

SOME THOUGHTS ON GLOBALIZATION; A PARADIGM REVOLUTION: The Big eating the Small is now the Fast eating the Slow.

THE CRAFT FUR DUCK; The old image of crafts needs changing.

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY, PT. III; "We are on the edge of losing touch with our consumers."

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY, PT. II; "We cannot...run companies for stockholders only or look for the one item that will last forever..."

MY 20 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY; "I still believe that accurate trend prediction is the most important driver for profits for companies..."

BEADING SMILES; Helping with sick kids through crafts.

THE WORST TRADE SHOW EVER; Why CHA is no longer in Chicago in winter.

ACCOUNTING FOR GIFT CARDS...Can mess up the books.

HOLIDAY EATING ADVICE; How to stay happy, if not healthy, during the holidays.

NRF'S TOP 10 TIPS FOR SMART HOLIDAY SHOPPING; What consumers are being told on getting the best deals from retailers.

THE MICHAELS SALE AND OCTOBER RETAILS RESULTS; The CLN Newsbrief emailed to subscribers.

WHAT HAPPENED TO PROFESSIONAL CRAFTERS? SOME ANSWERS; Lack of access to supplies, inept show managers, and more.

A BEGINNING (AND END) FOR SOME ... Why do some consumers stop crafting and other become lifelong enthusiasts?

YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME? Public exposure of a private life can be misleading, dangerous, and bad for business.

CLN NEWSBRIEFS: August sales and Michaels quarterly report and conference call.

CLN NEWSBRIEF: JO-ANN'S; The quarterly report and the conference call.

CHARITABLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL; Play golf, quilt, knit, scrap, stamp, paint - all for good causes.

IN DEFENSE OF PAPER; Technology has its place, but...


LITTLE WHITE LIES; Embellishing your resume can catch up to you.

THE DECORATIVE ARTS COLLECTION; The best our painters have to offer.

LETTERS TO CLN; Rag Shops, younger consumers, tough times for designers, and more.

BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE = LOYAL RETAILERS; 10 ways vendors can improve their relations with retailers.

WHAT HAPPENED TO PCP's; The savvy Professional Craft Producers have evolved.

PRIVATE CHARITY OR PUBLIC TAXES? Will the scalawags get rich and the poor remain poor?

HOW YOU CAN HELP KATRINA'S VICTIMS; Practical, concrete suggestions.

CHURCH BULLETINS; Typos that allegedly appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services.

SCRAPBOOKING A SENTIMENTAL EXPERIENCE; An example of why scrapbooking is so popular.

ANATOMY OF A PRODUCT PRESS RELEASE; What should be in it, how to write it, and a model.

EXCERPT: THE HEALING POWER OF CRAFTS; Using your hobbies to gain mental, physical, and spiritual benefits.

HOW TO SAY WHAT YOU MEAN; It's up to you to mean what you say.

ENCOURAGING BRIGHT IDEAS; Debunking myths about your staff's creativity.

SICK DAYS -- AND COMMON SENSE; Working when you're sick sets a bad example in more ways than you think.

THE ART OF COMPROMISE; It's an essential tool for the mid-level manager.

KNOWING YOUR LIMITATIONS; Thinking of trying a new category, such as scrapbooking? Answer these questions first.

PROGRESS? IF YOU SAY SO.; Are craft stores losing their identity.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T; Simple acts make a big difference.

FOSTERING CREATIVITY; The care and feeding of artists is a tricky business.

DIRECTIONAL SIGNALS, WHO'S TALKING, WHO'S LISTENING; How to avoid communication snafus.

WANNA JOIN A CLUB?; Not this one, please?

GRAPVINES: STOPPING OFFICE GOSSIP; Practical ways to minimize the damage.

EMAIL: THE UPS AND DOWNS; We can't live without it but we're paying a price.

LONG TERM SATISFACTION: Easy to cheapen products, but at what cost to your reputation?

EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION: WHY BOTHER?; Because it's not only fair, it's good business, too.