Silly band craze

Published 2:33 pm Monday, December 21, 2009

Multicolored, neon bands have captured the attention of otherwise easily distracted elementary, middle and high school students across Shelby County.

The multicolored rubberbands wrap wrists tightly but reshape into various creatures and shapes when laid flat on a surface. The SillyBandz or Crazybands became quickly traded amongst kids trying to garner one of every shape and color.

Rosemary Chesser, owner of Plain Jane’s in Lee Branch, said kids can’t seem to collect enough of them.

“I think it’s an inexpensive way for the kids to collect something –– the Beanie Babies a few years ago were at least $8 a doll, and that could get expensive,” Chesser said.

One package of bands retails for $4.99.

Like Beanie Babies, popular themes can be incredibly difficult to find.

“I did it because I wanted to bring traffic to my store,” Chesser said. “Now, I sell them specifically to my regular customers first because I want to be loyal to them. It’s frustrating to the customers because they can’t get them and frustrating to the stores because we can’t keep them in stock.”

One package typically includes about 20 bands, so many kids trade their extra rabbits or snowmen for other bands. Unfortunately, this does cause some distraction in classrooms.

Melinda Kayton is a second-grade teacher at Calera Elementary. She is also the school’s jokingly self-professed ringleader against the bracelets.

“I’ve collected somewhere between 50-100 easily,” Kayton said. “My own collection came from a combination of me taking them away and my students giving them to me as gifts.”

Kayton’s personal favorites are the bands that form animal shapes.

She said at least eight of her students avidly collect the bands.

“One child has over 80 on his arm each day,” she said. “They are a phenomenon! I only wish that I was the person who invented them.”

Calera fourth-grade teacher Leslie Blankenship said it’s not just her young students who get into them.

“I have a son in high school and they are just as big their as they are at the elementary and middle level. It is definitely not just a girl thing either. Some boys have just as many as the girls,” Blankenship said.

Chesser said she thinks the bands can be educational.

“I think what’s good about the trend is that its teaching the kids to share and communicate,” she said.