Kids Buy Low-Tech and Cool Going Back-to-School
By George Anderson
It was an idea that started out with making parenting easier but now a new combination lock that uses letters and words instead of numbers is being targeted to students.
WordLock is the invention of Todd Basche of Los Altos, California.
Mr. Basche told USA Today that the idea for the combination lock came to him as he tried to prevent his six-year-old son from going through any of the three gates leading
to the pool in his yard. That meant, in order to open the gates, he would either have to memorize three lock combinations or have at least one of three keys to open a gate.
“I just said, ‘That’s crazy.’ We’re human, we’re working with words all day long. A lock with words just seemed so logical to me.”
From the desire to make his own life less complicated, Mr. Basche developed the WordLock, which is now available in a variety of colors for $5.99 at Staples.
WordLock comes with a five-letter tumbler that offers up to 100,000 possible word combinations.
Kids also set it to things that aren’t words but the lexicon of e-mail, like ‘LOL’ for laugh out loud or ‘AFK’ for away from keyboard,” said Mr. Basche.
While the WordLock is decidedly low-tech, Staples believes it has sales winner with the product. “They’re (kids are) looking for innovative and easy-to-use products and we think
this product fits the bill,” said company spokesperson Sharyn Frankel.
Products such as WordLock are needed, say many in the retail industry, because this year’s back-to-school season is not expected to be as robust as past years. The National Retail
Federation (NRF) projects that consumers will spend eight percent less this year on back-to-school than they did in 2004.
The reason behind the expected drop, says NRF president Tracy Mullin, is a decline in big ticket technology items such as personal computers.
“The real windfall for electronics retailers will likely be from college students, who are continuing to spend money on computers, MP3 players and cell phones,” said Ms. Mullin.
Moderator’s Comment: Are the projections about this year’s back-to-school season an indication that consumers are cutting back on retail purchases or
is it a temporary blip before the holiday sales period begins? Are retailers, in light of projected back-to-school sales, finding alternative and unique products such as WordLock
to help make up for sales that may be lost in other areas where consumers are not spending as much this year?
– George Anderson – Moderator