FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to containers and dispensers for small paper or paper board objects.
Handles are typically used to lessen the discomfort associated with carrying heavily laden bags, such as plastic grocery bags, long distances. The handle may prevent the plastic straps of a bag from digging into a carrier's hand by distributing the load of the bag across the hand. One such handle is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,354,645 issued Mar. 12, 2002 to Bozlee, which is incorporated herein by reference.
Handles may be distributed to customers at grocery stores, or other retail establishments. Handles may include advertisements, coupons, or any other desired graphics.
Dispensers for handles or other advertising devices in accordance with the present invention, may be formed from inexpensive, disposable plastic. Dispensers may include at least one recess formed to store and/or display handles in an easily accessible manner. In some embodiments, the dispenser may include more than one recess.
In some embodiments, the handles contained in the at least one recess may have a substantially similar shape and size to one another. The number of recesses may be varied to scale the dispenser size for use in a variety of spaces. The handles may be flat die cut paper or any other suitable material or formed in any other suitable manner. Each handle may be generally symmetric. However, in some embodiments, one of the edges may include a discontinuity. In other embodiments, both edges include discontinuities. For instance, in some embodiments, one of the edges may include a indention or a flat portion relative to the rest of the edge.
The perimeter of the recess may be formed to interact with one or more edges of the handles. For instance, in one embodiment, the perimeter may include curved portions and a flat portion. The curved portions may interact with curved portions on the handle edges and the flat portion may interact with the discontinuity of the handle edge. However, other configurations for the handle edges and/or recess perimeter are also possible. The interacting portions of the handle and recess may be curved, straight, or any other suitable shape. The interaction may facilitate the alignment of the handles contained in the dispenser. The interaction may further facilitate the handles maintaining a generally upright orientation in the dispenser, even if the dispenser is moved, shaken, or otherwise disturbed during transport or otherwise.
In some embodiments, the dispensers may include flattened bottom portions to facilitate securing the dispenser to a surface, such as a counter at a check out point or any other desired location. Dispensers of this invention may be secured to surfaces by two sided tape, hook and loop structures, or other suitable materials.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
This invention provides an inexpensive, attractive and effective way to store and dispense a substantial number of handles in a small space at a check-out station in a grocery store or other retail establishment for easy and convenient use by the cashier or bagger. In some embodiments, the dispenser may be loaded with handles automatically by machines. The dispenser also does not hinder collation of the handles during the loading procedure. In addition to allowing ease of loading, the dispenser may also facilitate the removal of handles from the dispenser, such that the handles can be quickly accessed at the retail point of sale for installation onto bags.
FIG. 1 shows a schematic cross-section of a dispenser and a handle according to a first embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a handle dispenser according to another embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 3 shows a top view of the dispenser of FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 shows a bottom view of the dispenser of FIG. 2.
FIG. 5 shows a right side view of the dispenser of FIG. 2, the left side view being the same.
FIG. 6 shows a front side view of the dispenser of FIG. 2, the back side view being the same.
FIG. 1 shows a schematic cross-section view of a portion of a dispenser 10 according to a first embodiment of the present invention. Dispensers 10, in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention, may be placed at retail points of sale or other locations where it is desirable to dispense bag handles to customers or other individuals. Dispensers 10 may store, display and dispense bag handles in an attractive and neat manner. Dispensers 10 according to various embodiments of the present invention preferably hold bag handles 18 in an unfolded condition, as shown in FIG. 1. Dispensers 10 may hold relatively large numbers of bag handles in a relatively compact manner. In one preferred embodiment, dispensers 10 may hold approximately four hundred and twenty (420) bag handles 18.
Dispenser 10 may be formed from vacuum molded plastic or any other suitable material and may be disposable. Dispenser 10 may include a base portion 34 to maintain the dispenser in an upright orientation when placed on a surface. Base portion 34 may be a lip protruding from the bottom of the dispenser 10 or any other suitable structure. In some embodiments, dispenser 10 may be formed in a low profile design, contributing to the overall stability of the dispenser 10. The design of dispenser 10 may also facilitate stacking of multiple dispensers 10 such that many units can be shipped in a single container.
The dispenser 10 may include at least one recess 12. Preferably, dispenser 10 includes more than one recess 12. More preferably, dispenser 10 includes four recesses 12. In some preferred embodiments, each recess 12 may hold one hundred and five (105) bag handles 18. In some embodiments, the recesses may be of a small enough size that the handles 18 will remain substantially upright in the recess 12 even when the majority of the handles 18 are removed.
The perimeter 14 of recess 12 may be formed to interact with an edge 16 of handle 18. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the edge 16 of the handle includes at least one discontinuity 24. The recess 12 may be shaped to interact with that discontinuity, or the remainder of the handle edge 16, to facilitate the handles 18 maintaining an ordered and attractive appearance when stacked in dispenser 10. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, curved portions of the handle 20 interact with curved portions of the recess 27 and the portion of the edge including the discontinuity 24 interacts with a flattened bottom portion 26 of the recess 12. However, the present invention is not limited to this arrangement, other shapes, sizes and proportions of handle edges 16 and recesses 12 are possible.
The interaction of the handle edge 16 with portions of the perimeter 14 may facilitate the handles maintaining a certain orientation in the dispenser 10. For example, dispenser 10 may be jostled or otherwise disturbed during use. The interaction of the receiver 12 with the handles 18 may facilitate the handles maintaining a uniform or aligned orientation during and after the disturbance.
In some embodiments, underside portions 28 of the dispenser may be generally flat to create a securing surface such that the dispenser may be secured to a surface, such as a counter at a check out point or any other desired location. The underside portion 28 may be the flattened bottom portion 26 or it may be another portion of the dispenser 10. As shown in FIG. 1, a fastener 36 may be used to secure dispenser 10 to a surface. Fastener 36 may be adhesive, removable adhesive, double-sided adhesive, tape, glue, cement, epoxy, or hook and loop piles.
As may be appreciated by reference to FIGS. 2-6, an upstanding plate 30 having an arcuate top 32 in the illustrated embodiment may serve as a handle for lifting and moving the dispenser 10. Although handle plate 30 is smooth in the Figures, it may also alternatively have a textured surface to make it easier to grasp and hold without slipping.
As will be readily understood by those skilled in the art, structures and materials other than those discussed above and depicted in the figures can be used without departing from the spirit of this invention or the scope of the following claims. For instance, a variety of thermoplastic or thermoset plastics, metal, pasterboard or other materials could be used for the dispenser of this invention. Likewise, a variety of dispenser configurations, numbers of recesses and methods of orienting or attaching the dispenser in use can be used.