It’s the biggest hit since jelly bracelets in the 1980s — Silly Bandz.
The rage, which has a number of companies selling animal-shaped rubber bands in bright colors, has hit the nation by storm and Northeast Georgia isn’t any different. For about $5, you can buy 24 of the latest fashion accessories for kids and tweens.
“Actually we were one of the first in town to have them, around Valentines day,” said Sue DeLong, an employee at Little Ladybug in Gainesville. “We sold out of Silly Bandz about two weeks ago. I think the attraction is once somebody has them, everybody wants them.”
DeLong said she expects another shipment of Silly Bandz to the children’s store any day now.
“It’s like anything in such demand,” she said of the delay. “I’m sure there are bigger stores that will come before us.”
Silly Bandz are rubber bands that come in different colors and shapes, like pets, zoo animals, sea creatures, basic designs, western themes, dinosaurs, alphabet and even princesses. There are other brands as well, including Bama Bandz and Logo Bandz, which use shapes from major sports, colleges and popular attractions and entertainments like Disney and Marvel Comics.
The bands are die molded and made of silicone, so they return to their original shape if stretched. Kids pile them on their arms and wear them like bracelets, and many collect, wear and trade the bands with friends.
Local kids are going crazy over the little rubbery inventions.
“A lot of them are like really cool,” said 7-year-old Ethan Popham. “You can get kinds like rock band (shapes), monsters ... I have like some rock band ones and maybe some animals.”
Popham does like trading the Silly Bandz with friends, but there are a few that he would never trade away.
“Probably the one that says ‘love’ on it,” he said. “And mine — that is a person playing the guitar.”
Kim Gordon, mother of a 10-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, said her kids love the bracelets.
“It’s something different; it’s just like friendship bracelets,” she said. “It’s something they can trade with each other and it’s fun for them to trade.”
Michael Lewis, owner of Forever Collectibles based in Edison, N.J., makes Logo Bandz. He said the craze started in America about a year ago but has been going on in Asia for several years.
“It’s a very unique phenomenon. There is no marketing,” he said. “I have never seen anything like it.” His company is selling more than half a million packages a day — and rising.
Zanybandz bracelets are now sold to about 8,000 stores across the country, said co-owner Lori Montag, of Broken Arrow, Okla.
Local stores are catching on to the craze.
“I bought mine at Hibbett (Sports) and Corner Drugs. And we even saw them last night at Blockbuster,” she said. “So everyone’s getting into it.”
Robin Sayetta, vice president of licensing for the children’s magazine Highlights, said the trend incorporates a lot of things children care about.
“It touches on some of the classic attributes that make kids toys appealing,” she said. “Nothing lasts forever, but I think it’s going to be around for a while. It’s fun, they’re reasonably priced, they’re collectible, there’s a lot of ways they can be used.”
Corner Drugs only had the bracelets for one day, said Alesha Godoy, a pharmacy technician at the drugstore who got her oldest two children a pack each.
“We sold in out in like a day,” she said. “I know that we were supposed to receive a shipment last week ... but now they are saying they are three or four weeks on backorder.”
Godoy said the kids try to collect all the bands and then see how many they can have on their wrist. “Some of the kids, when they take them off, will have indentions in their arms.”
Chris Byrne, an independent toy analyst and content director for timetoplaymag.com, said the trend, like others, has an expiration date.
“I am willing to bet maybe the end of the summer,” he said. “But it’s very likely to be something else when back-to-school time comes around.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.