January 11, 2008

yes, i'm obsessed with bags

Yesterday American Public Media’s Marketplace ran a segment on the death of the plastic shopping bag and the rise of the reusable. Here in San Francisco plastic shopping bags have been banned, and when you’re around town you see more and more folks trucking around their consumables in their own bags.

The Marketplace story featured Vincent Cobb, president of the ecommerce site Reusablebags.com, which sells, obviously, a wide variety of reusable shopping bags – from ultracompact to thermal to heavy duty. They’re also venturing into the “Fashionable” category, with about 15 SKUs that are a little less utilitarian and a little more “high design.” The entire category of reusable shopping bag is relatively new; though Reusablebags.com was started in 2003, searches for similar product on eBags.com, the gorilla in the bags space, came up empty.

Which brings me to the opportunity: designer and custom-printed reusable shopping bags. The trend setters in the major cities (where banning or reducing the use of plastic shopping bags is likely to happen) are going to look at the shopping bag as another outlet for self-expression. In the near term, look for boutiques in these cities to start carrying limited run high-design reusable shopping bags.

And then, look for the shopping bag to jump to the mass-customization and community-designed segments. How long until Zazzle or Qoop offers custom printed shopping bags? Wouldn’t you just love to guilt your friends and family into adopting a reusable bag with a bag that features pictures of their kids? (“Do it for the children…”) Or how about skinnycorp spinning out a threadless or Naked and Angry tailored for shopping bags? The clever illustration opportunities are endless…