Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wish I'd Thought of That

It’s amazing how some people can take the ordinary and make it into the extraordinary—then make a profit with it.

Take the Silly Bandz explosion: colored rubber bands shaped like animals, objects, letters, numbers, etc., priced within a kid’s reach at $4.95 for a twenty-four pack. For a while, they were a must have, fun to trade. Even movie stars wore them.

The latest example I’ve seen is duct or duck tape. How many years have I been looking at this stuff, primarily in the standard gray color, lying on my husband’s workbench? This weekend I took my daughter to the store so she could use her Christmas money to buy Color Duck Tape, specifically hot pink and zebra striped, to add to her growing supply. She uses it to decorate her school folders and notebooks and to make flowers on the ends of pens and pencils. Now it’s a must have, and the local craft store had plenty of it at $3.99 a roll, well within a kid’s budget.

You may remember the story of the accidental invention of the sticky note or the Post-It Note. The adhesive’s invention was accidental, but its uses were ingenious. I’ve got yellow, hot pink, blue, and green Post-It notes on my desk. I know artists have used them to create wall art, and some writers use them to create movable storyboards.

I guess that’s what’s referred to as “thinking out of the box.” Apparently, I’m firmly nailed inside my box, because these sorts of ideas never occur to me. It’s noteworthy that I’m even thinking they might, because I’m usually trying to think of something for dinner.

So, what about you? Anything like these few that you wished you’d thought of?


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Very clever post, Lisa. And it makes me see what I've missed by not having kids, or grandkids at this point. I've never heard of Silly Bandz or Color Duck Tape, though I do have a roll of the standard silvery-gray stuff hanging about. If you hadn't mentioned Post-It Notes, this post might have gone totally over my head.

Immediately my mind went to the Pet Rock. Remember those? What audacity to think you could put a rock in a carrying case and sell it for $3.95. The creater became an instant millionaire.

I'm looking around my home now wondering... hmmm, pet pen, pet socks, pet vacuumm cleaner?

Alan Orloff said...

How about this: trading cards, but instead of baseball players and football players, the cards would have pictures and stats of writers.

Huh? Huh? Think I'm on to something?

Deborah Sharp said...

Hey, Lisa ... I'm firmly inside that box with you. I've NEVER had an idea that could-a made a million. My hubby, on the other hand, has them all the time, but NEVER does anything with them (except tell me over and over how it could-a made a million $)

Keith Raffel said...

Lisa, guess you're focusing your imagination on your writing. Not a bad thing.

Alan, what stats would be on the back of the card instead of the usual ERA or HRs or RBIs? WPD (words per day), appearances, Rookie of the Year Awards?

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Alan, trading cards for authors? Really? Like we don't have enough issues to obsess over as it is? I can see it now:

Reader 1 - "I'll trade you 14 Sue Ann Jaffarian cards for one Lee Child."

Reader 2 - "Throw in $20 and your lawn mower and Child is yours. "

Darrell James said...

Lisa- I'm thinking "Plastic Parsley"! Who eats the stuff anyway?

Sue Ann- Shouldn't that be 1 Sue Ann Jaffarian card for 14 Lee Child? (Just kidding Lee.)

Beth Groundwater said...

Here's what I wish I'd invented: a machine that fills up beer glasses to the precise amount, from the bottom, so there's minimal foam. Plus the magnetic disks on the bottom of the glass are an opportunity for advertising spots:

And I think the trading cards for authors is a great idea, though like Sue Ann, I worry that my card might not be as valuable as those of the "big names." Stats might include # of books published, awards, cons visited, etc.

Lisa Bork said...

Sue Ann - Oh, the Pet Rock. Perfect example. Reminds me of the lumps of coal they sell every Xmas.

Alan - You're so funny! Can't wait to read your new book.

Deb - My husband has ideas all the time, too. He works on some.

Keith - Have to work with the skills I've got :)

Darrell - My dog would eat it, but then she eats tissues, too.

Beth - Those disks are good places to advertise. I read all the advertisements on placemats, too.

G.M. Malliet said...

Alan - I think we've already got trading cards but they're called bookmarks. ;-)

Lisa - In the great American tradition, you have created a want where there was no need before. I *want* some of that tape now.

Lisa Bork said...

Gin - Check your local craft store or even Home Depot or Loews.

Bookmarks are like trading cards, just free.