A Thin Line

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This soul's looking for a couple of Suckers

When visiting my 5-year-old niece Amanda recently, I noticed that she was sporting some new items on her arms. They weren't your typical bracelets.

When I asked her about them, she simply told me, "Memo and Papa Whitaker (her mother's parents) got them for me at the mall."

I didn't think too much about it until I went to the mall and saw one of those kiosks selling the same type of "bracelets" Amanda was wearing. They come in all shapes and colors, and no matter what you do to them, the premise is that they will go back to their original shape...a shark, a heart, a teddy bear, a pineapple...whatever.

They're called Silly Bandz, and you can buy a pack of 12 for about $5. This hot item has got parents searching high and low in malls, toy stores and the like, and the stores can't seem to keep them on their shelves.

The appeal for kids, aside from the fact that all the kids are wearing them, is that kids are also trading them. I read of one kid who bragged that he had traded his skateboard...and got 12 Silly Bandz. He was quite proud, and thought he'd made a good trade.

The bands are the brain child of Robert Croak who, a year ago, was shipping 20 boxes of the items a day from his Toledo, Ohio company. Now he ships more than 1,500 boxes a day. His Facebook page for the product, now has 166,000 friends. The product has a presence on Twitter as well, and its own blog.

The remarkable thing about Silly Bandz to me was that Croak has used no advertising to spread the word about his product. It's all been word of mouth. Well...more accurately, it's been an arms race. One day, a kid shows up at school wearing them, and the next day, 10 kids are wearing them, and the day after, 30 kids are wearing them...you get the idea. It's become a downright phenomenon. And it's making Croak rich.

Rubber bands...hmmm...my niece bought into it. Her friends bought into it...kids all over the country are into it...it's gone from elementary school to high school...Croak's making millions...

It's such a simple idea, and they can't cost that much to make. I wonder if I could come up with an idea that would be just as good and would catch on...

How about this? Sole Suckers...shoes without the top part. You just stick these Suckers to the soles of your feet and you instantly are wearing shoes...yet not. They'd be great for the more tropical climates where it's just too hot to wear shoes, yet not practical to go barefoot all the time. I think I've got a winner here...

Hey...if some dude can make millions selling rubber bands shaped like pineapples, then I can make a mint with Sole Suckers. It could happen...

Posted: Jun 23 2010, 01:29 PM by Red On The Head | with no comments
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