Saturday, May 22, 2010

ID Mommy Bargains: Garage Sale Finds of [Last] Week

So this past week I found some great garage sales, and a plethora of treasures. I wanted to share just a couple this week...they are my SMALLEST finds of the week (don't laugh Mom, I know you are picturing my jam-packed Jeep last Thursday when I said I was NOT going to buy anything big!), but I think they are cool little treasures and of design interest.

The first is this neat salt and pepper dispenser from Whirley Industries, made in the 1950's. I call it a "dispenser" and not a "shaker," because it requires no shaking.

You hold this thing over your food, and if you want salt, you push the white button. If you want pepper, push the black button. Pushing the button releases a little plunger in the bottom, dispensing the seasoning of your choice. (on the far left you see me dispensing pepper. On the far right I've pulled out and turned the plungers to access the holes to refill it.)

Using Google's patent search, I entered the patent number on the bottom of the shaker, and found that the design patent was filed for in 1952.

Of course, it's still not really an improvement over the traditional "shaker" style with holes, because you can't see very well how much is coming out, and shaking is just a lot easier and quicker to spread salt or pepper over a larger area. But, I thought it was a fun concept and a great little piece of design history for the $0.50 cents I paid!

I also found these great napkin rings at the same sale. I've been wanting to get a nice set of napkin rings that were clean and modern, but of quality material, and I really liked these. They were originally asking $4 and had "slashed" their price tag to $2. I think they might be silver but not can see they have a little tarnishing to clean up. They are really nice and heavy.

Wait a minute...see how I made that connection..."nice" and "heavy?" I bet you've done that too when shopping for products. You pick something up, and if it feels heavy in your hands, you perceive it as being of high quality. As industrial designers, we call that "perceived value." It's when an element of the product's design, be it weight, material, color, texture, or any other factor, contributes to the consumer's viewpoint on whether the object is of great or little value. Yup, there's a name for it, and people out there designing stuff for you with that concept in mind. I've actually heard stories of products that sold for more money after simply adding in some weight. Interesting, huh?

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