Saturday, June 19, 2010

What's the deal with the rubber bands?

A few weeks ago:

"Dad, can we go to the store? I need to buy some rubber bands."

"We have plenty of rubber bands. What do you need them for?"

"Daaaad, these are special rubber bands. They aren't just circles but all sorts of shapes and colours."

"So what you are going to use them for?"

"We put them on our wrists and occasionally swap them with other kids."

That piqued my interest. When we got to the store, I found that these were the most expensive rubber bands in the history of the planet (clocking at at 20 cents a piece). And at no point were they intended for normal rubber band use. Suffice it to say, this is what pocket money was for.

It was a marvel to me. The company that created Silly Bandz was Brainchild products; specifically, Robert Crock according the website. They had clearly stumbled across massive profitability and it is hard to understand how. But all these elementary school kids are walking around with 30 rubber bands on each wrist. It is both ridiculous and ingenious at the same time.

But it gets better. At the moment, Silly Bandz are the most traded item on eBay -- reminding me of Beanie Babies in an earlier day. They have become a collecting phenomenon selling for 10 times their  original retail price in some cases.

Usually these crazes are trading cards. In my day, everyone had a Coca Cola YoYo but that craze was usually short-lived on account of the danger posed. The potential is there for rubber bands too but, at the moment, they are so valuable that the kids don't seem to be weaponising them yet.

[Update: some school kids' insights on Silly Bandz]