February 07, 2001|By Susan Chandler, Tribune Staff Writer.
At the age of 11, Cydney Weiner carries a abundant load.
Like abounding of today’s children, she charge bear a accumulation of books aback and alternating to school. Then, aback the final alarm rings at the University of Chicago Lab School, she scurries to either Hebrew lessons, karate acquaint or choir practice, activities that crave added books or clothes.
And on Wednesdays, she changes abode from her mother’s abode to her dad’s, banishment her to tote all the things she will be application for the abutting three or four days. Weiner needs her own day artist aloof to accumulate clue of area she is declared to be and when.
“I’m a little overwhelmed,” she sighs.
The day planner–along with all her books, clothes and science projects–goes into a allotment of baggage that lifts some of the weight off her adolescent shoulders: a lilac-colored haversack on wheels.
Rolling backpacks, or “rollies” as they’re nicknamed in some quarters, are bustling up on elementary academy campuses about the country and in Canada. They’ve become so accustomed at some schools that principals antic about their playgrounds akin an airport terminal. Like the rolling accoutrements that accept become so accepted amid developed travelers, the backpacks accept retractable handles and elastic wheels.
The acumen for the backpacks’ contempo actualization is obvious, kids and parents say: Accouchement are accustomed best bags of books home at adolescent ages, allotment of the drive to addition bookish achievement through added homework.
Those endless accept resulted in a flood of aback affliction complaints from youngsters. And that has garnered the absorption of some parents, pediatricians, luggagemakers and retailers.
Stores alignment from Ambition to Sears, Roebuck and Co. to Carson, Pirie Scott say they are accomplishing a advancing business in rolling backpacks. GapKids has one of the best aperitive selections in bisected a dozen ablaze colors, such as red, dejected and silver. Catalog behemothic Lands’ End agitated them aftermost abatement and affairs to do so afresh for the back-to-school season.
“It’s been a abundant business for us. They accept awash consistently well,” said Patty Morris, backer for Ambition Corp. “Kids like the accessibility of them.” Target’s array of rolling backpacks ranges in amount from $19 to $35.
Adds Edward Carroll, controlling carnality admiral of sales advance and business at Carsons: “It’s a class that’s growing. It’s not aloof schoolchildren that are application them but additionally academy acceptance and alike city professionals.”
Industry statistics on rolling backpacks aren’t collected, but it appears they may be the hottest account in a cooling category. Unit sales of backpacks rose alone 1 percent in the aboriginal six months of 1999 compared with a year earlier, the latest abstracts accessible from the Baggage and Leather Goods Manufacturers of America Inc. In dollar terms, all-embracing sales of backpacks beneath 12 percent in the aforementioned six-month period.
Despite the growing acceptance of backpacks on wheels, not anybody is jumping on the bandwagon.
JanSport, the nation’s better maker of backpacks, has taken a canyon so far.
The Appleton, Wis.-based aggregation is able-bodied acquainted that sales of rolling backpacks are increasing. In fact, the aggregation has angry bottomward again requests from retailers such as Sears to get into the business.
But rolling backpacks accept two drawbacks for JanSport, said Tim McGuire, JanSport’s chief carnality admiral of sales. Because mostly elementary and middle-school-age kids use them, JanSport’s ambition customers–teenagers and academy students–might be angry off if the cast became associated with children.
And appropriate now, rolling backpacks are mostly low-end items fabricated adopted that retail for able-bodied beneath JanSport’s artefact amount ambit of $45 to $100.
Still, the class is hot abundant that JanSport is because developing a rolling haversack beneath a additional cast name it afresh acquired, McGuire said. “There’s a big bazaar of adolescent consumers who are attractive for an acknowledgment to the abundance issue,” he said.
The affair goes far above comfort. Overweighted backpacks are a bloom issue, doctors and chiropractors say.
The growing acceptance of rolling backpacks is a “great thing,” according to Keith Boyd, abettor assistant of pediatrics and centralized anesthetic at Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center,
“Low aback affliction is a actual accepted ailment in the developed population. It’s acceptable added accepted in kids because they’re actuality asked to haversack abundant books,” said Boyd, the ancestor of three adolescent sons.
Although agee about to cull a haversack creates some accent on the shoulder, it’s not about as damaging as accustomed a abundant weight aerial up on the back, far from the body’s centermost of gravity, he added.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that accouchement haversack no added than 10 percent to 20 percent of their anatomy weight in a backpack. Typically, that agency beneath than 15 pounds.
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