Learning Express, a franchise of more than 140 independently owned and operated specialty toy stores, has noticed that a simple product is becoming a hot trend for kids: collectible rubber bands. “We have a storeowner in North Carolina who has sold over 25,000 packs of rubber bands since January 1 of this year,” said Rob Kracinovich, the corporate buyer for the novelty category at the company, in a press release.
The rubber bands are a playful version of the wristband trend that was made popular by the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s Livestrong silicon bracelets. The bands (such as Toysmith’s shown above) are shaped as objects such as turtles, elephants, ostriches, cats, and pigs, and when stretched out can be worn as colorful bracelets, anklets, or hair-ties. When they aren’t being worn the rubber bands spring back to their original shapes.
Learning Express is selling an exclusive pack of five springtime shapes manufactured by Toysmith. The company says that its stores are selling out of the rubber bands from various manufacturers, sometimes hours after the arrival of a shipment.
“What we’ve seen in the past year—between Zhu Zhu Pets, Smencils, collectible erasers, and now these rubber bands—is that hot products are at a consistently lower price point,” Kracinovich said. “That’s a symptom of the economic climate. If you look at the sales, these rubber bands won’t add up to the business we saw in the Beanie Baby or Webkinz years. But if you look at the number of units sold? The rubber bands have already surpassed anything we’ve ever seen before.”