Clovis inventor out thousands of dollars due to SkyMall bankruptcy

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Dan Whitlatch of Clovis thought selling his TowlHub invention in the quirky SkyMall magazine that's featured on every airliner in the U.S. would be a perfect fit. (KFSN)

Dan Whitlatch of Clovis thought selling his TowlHub invention in the quirky SkyMall magazine that's featured on every airliner in the U.S. would be a perfect fit.

"I thought get in front of millions of people every day and get that exposure, but we had no idea it would be this popular," said Whitlatch.

Whitlatch says his product took off, selling thousands in just the last year. The TowlHub or TowlTunes is a paper towel stand that features four USB ports and a wine stopper on top.

"The TowlTunes has speakers in the base with a Bluetooth chip so you can pair your device to it and stream Pandora or iTunes," said Whitlatch.

Whitlatch, who also sells the product on Amazon and soon Sharper Image, says he had no idea the catalogue was in financial trouble. SkyMall filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 22. Whitlatch says when he heard the news he tried to contact the company but found the employee he was used to speaking to had been let go.

"They weren't returning my phone calls so we sent emails, and finally they sent an email back saying they're going through Chapter 11 and they're not going to pay us on anything before January 22nd," said Whitlatch.

After a busy Christmas season, that meant he was out $30,000. He was forced to lay off his only employee. Now, he's putting his invention on Amazon at a discount, hoping to make up for the losses.

"It's a bummer but it's just part of life -- get knocked down, get back up. I'm not going to let it hold me back," said Whitlatch.

In fact, Whitlatch has a few other inventions up his sleeve, but he'll likely look somewhere else besides SkyMall to sell them.

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businessbankruptcyfresno countybusinessClovis
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