US 3139185 A
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June 30, 1964 w. E. WENTZ MERCHANDISING DISPLAY TOWER 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed May 1, 1963 June 30, 1964 w. E. WENTZ 3,139,135
.MERCHANDISING DISPLAY TOWER Filed May 1, 1963 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR.
ATTORNEYS United States Patent Ohio Filed May 1, 1963, Ser. No. 277,186 8 Claims. (Cl. 211-14) This invention relates to improvements in fountaintype bulk display racks and, more particularly, to a sectional type, which is readily collapsible for shipment and storage but is sturdy and stable when filled with merchandise for display. It is intended for the display of play or sport balls of spherical or spheroidal contour or other items which are completely or relatively unstable when piled in bulk.
In the retail sale of items such as toy play balls, it has long been the practice to display them for sale in bulk and without packaging (other than for some more readily soiled items, a thin, tight wrapping of transparent film). This practice permits the prospective retail customer to see the item and saves packaging costs by permitting the balls to be shipped in bulk. Unfortunately, and especially in self-service stores, the practice also permits handling and consequent soiling of the merchandise by the customers and, when the items are relatively small, shop-lifting. From the merchants point of view, the stands, containers, bins, and the like which have been heretofore used also have one or more of the following faults: (a) A relatively large amount of floor or counter space per unit of merchandise is occupied; (b) items may be readily inaccessible to the customer and few are actually displayed; (0) the display units may require excessive time and attention of clerks to keep them relatively filled; (d) if the items are relatively accessible to the customer, they are also readily replaced upon reconsideration of an impulse to purchase; (e) the display means, unless expensive and bulky counters, shelves, or cases are used, :are generally either relatively unsightly bins and baskets or racks or stands which are flimsy in fact and appearance.
A display made according to the present invention largely avoids the foregoing objections to prior art display devices and has the following advantages:
(1) It displays a large volume of merchandise with a low ratio of floor and counter space per unit of merchandise.
(2) Though light in weight and collapsible to a small volume for shipment and storage, the display is readily erected and, in use, is sturdy and stable in fact and appearance.
(3) The merchandise is readily accessible, but as an individual item is removed from the display, sufiicient motion is frequently created in the major volume of the merchandise to discourage shop-lifting and, once an item is removed, it is usually relatively difiicult for a purchaser to replace it in the display.
(4) As a highly visible and prominent display in most stores, it also serves as its own indicator of the need for replacement of merchandise by stock clerks, who may quickly refill the display.
The manner in which this invention achieves the foregoing objects and advantages and other objects and advantages of this invention should be apparent from the following specification, claims, and drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an embodiment of a display rack according to this invention; elements of the display which would appear in the background are broken away to avoid confusion; the relative diameters of the rod elements are exaggerated, with respect to the over-all proportion, for clarity of illustration.
3,139,185 Patented June 30, 1964 FIG. 2 is a fragmentary vertical cross-section taken along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a detail view of a simple hinge connection which the construction permits.
FIG. 4 is a detail view of the simple latching connection which the construction permits.
FIG. 5 is a detail view, broken away, of the simple connection between top and bottom sections of the display tower.
Referring to the drawings, the display tower shown is made up of horizontally and vertically extending rods welded together to provide panels in which the horizon tally and vertically extending rods or rod sections define open sub-panels through which balls or other similar rollable and flowable merchandise may be viewed. The proportions of the sub-panels are selected to provide openings which will not permit the smallest size articles intended to be displayed to pass through the sub-panels but otherwise to provide a maximum opening area for viewing the merchandise.
As indicated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the display is comprised of a fence unit 10, a lower tower section 20, and an upper tower section 30. The fence unit 10 is comprised of four equal panels 11, 12, 13, and 14 having a hinge connection between successive panels and a latch connection between the first panel 11 and the last panel 14. Suflicient lost motion is provided in the hinge connections to permit the panels to be folded relatively flat against each other in order to collapse them for shipping and storage purposes. When panels 11 and 14 are connected by the latching means, the panels define a quadrilateral access area. The vertical height of the panels 11 to 14, inclusive, is selected to retain in the display area the largest balls or other items intended to be displayed.
Within the access area defined by the fence unit 10 stands the lower tower section 20 comprised of panels 21, 22, 23, and 24. These panels are connected to each other by intermediate hinge connections and provided with latch connections between the end panels 21 and 24. As in the case of the fence unit 10, the hinge connections provide sufficient lost motion to permit the panels to be collapsed fiat against each other. The latch connections, when engaged, allow the panels 21 to 24, inclusive, to define a volume having a quadrilateral plan area.
The lower tower section 20 is supported at its corners above the access area by legs attached adjacent its corners so that the lowest rods of the panels 21 to 24, inclusive, and the legs constitute gates through which balls may roll freely from the central portion of the access area under the tower section 20.
In the welded rod construction shown, it has been found most convenient to mount the legs in pairs on opposite panels. One such pair of legs 41 and 42 are shown connected to the lower corners of the panel 21 and one leg 43 of the opposing pair is shown connected to the lowest horizontal end of the panel 23. (For clarity of illustration, the fourth leg 44 has been omitted in FIG. 1.)
The lower tower section 20 supports and retains, by suitable connectors, the upper tower section 30 comprised of panels 31, 32, 33, and 34 connected by intermediate hinge units to permit flat folding of the panels with respect to each other. As in the case of the above-disclosed fence and lower tower sections, the panels 31 and 34 are connectable to each other by suitable latch units which, when engaged, cause the upper tower section to define a volume having a quadrilateral plan area.
A preferred hinge connection 5%) for the panels con-v structed of welded rods is shown in detail in FIG. 3. A horizontal rod of a panel extends beyond the outermost vertically extending rod of the panel and is formed into a loop 51. A corresponding horizontal rod of an adjacent panel is then formed into a loop 52 linked into the loop. In the panels of the tower sections 29 and 39, it is preferable to so form all horizontal rods of the panels into such hinges 5h intermediate the panels in order to carry the appreciable outward loads on the panels. In the fence section 10, where the outward load on the panels is less, one such hinge connection between successive panels is usually sufiicient.
In order to connect the first and last of the intermediately hinged panels in a section, the rod construction employed permits the use of a simple latch 6% as shown in detail in FIG. 4. A horizontal rod of one panel is formed into a keeper loop 61, extending beyond an outermost vertical rod. The end of a corresponding horizontal rod of an adjacent panel is bent in a plane transverse to that of the keeper loop 61 in order to provide a bolt 62 which is insertable into the loop 61 to latch end panels of a section together. An advantage of this type of latch is that it connects the end panels so that they are pivoted with respect to each other and, accordingly, the number of latches 68 between end panels in a section preferably corresponds to the number of hinges 5i) employed in the intermediate joints between panels of a section.-
The welded rod construction likewise permits the use of very simple connectors between tower sections 29 and 30. As shown in FIG. 5, adjacent horizontal rods of the sections rest upon each other and are prevented from moving laterally by extending detents '7 d alternately located on opposite sides of the congruent horizontal rods. As shown in FIG. 5, such alternately located detents '73 are welded to the top rod of the lower tower section 20 to include the bottom rod of the upper tower section. Such alternately and oppositely located detents may be carried by the upper section or some detents may be carried by one section and other detents by the other section, so long as the detents are located to restrain lateral movement of the tower sections with respect to each other.
As shown, the tower sections define and include a truncated pyramidal volume open at the top for the simultaneous and simple filling of a number of balls into the display by a stock clerk. Although a four-sided pyramid is disclosed, the number of sides of the truncated pyramid may vary from three to any desired number of sides up to and including a truncated cone. Also, the slope ofthe sides of the pyramid may vary from vertical to the maximum permitted by the desired height and the top opening, which should be large enough to permit the largest balls to be displayed to be loaded through a top opening. A slope of the sides from vertical is preferred in order to create actual as well as an appearance of stability and sturdiness when the display is filled with merchandise.
The height of the display is usually selected so that its upper portion is usually well above the counters, shelves, and cases in which other merchandise is displayed in a store. This not only attracts attention of customers and permits a large number of balls to be displayed in relation to the counter space occupied, but also serves as a readily-seen indicator to stock clerks, i.e., when the level of balls in the display falls from sight or below a given horizontal rod, it constitutes an indication that a new supply of balls should be loaded into the display.
When the fence section It) and tower sections 2% and 30 are erected and assembled, as described above, upon a counter or display stand surface, the several sections, due to the loose hinge and latch connection, will, when empty, as shown in FIG. 1, be relatively unstable and shifty. However, when a supply of balls is poured into the tower sections through the opening defined by the upper horizontal rods of the section 30 until the balls flow out into the perimeter of the access area and the volume of at least the lower tower section 20 is filled, the outward pressure of the balls takes up the slack in the hinge and latch connections between the panels and also urges the several panels to assume their maximum volume,
i.e., urges the panels into right angles with each other when the sections are comprised of four equal panels. In some instances the merchant may wish to stabilize the display by stapling or otherwise securing the fence section and legs of the lower tower section to the counter or display stand surface, but ordinarily this is superfluous when the display is stabilized by its contents.
FIG. 2 also illustrates the manner in which the display operates to discourage shop-lifting and return of handled merchandise while presenting the merchandise in a conveniently accessible fashion. When one of the balls in the perimeter of the display area, say the ball B, is picked up, the commotion which may be immediately created among the balls displayed within the tower discourages surreptitious taking of the merchandise. And while stock clerks may conveniently load merchandise through the top opening by use of ladders, step stools, and the like, the top opening is preferably located above the reach of the customer. Thus, the replacement of a ball taken from the perimeter of the access area by a customer by another ball flowing into the access area from the lower tower section 26, together with the consequent difficulty of forcing a ball in the perimeter back through the gate and up into the tower section, discourages the return of the merchandise after it has once been taken from the display.
It should be apparent from the foregoing that this invention is not limited to the specific embodiment shown but, within the scope of the following claims, may be varied and modified to accommodate displays as defined therein to specific uses and needs.
What is claimed is:
1. A display for balls and like merchandise unlikely to become self-entangled, which is adapted to be placed on counters and like horizontal access surfaces in order to present specimens of displayed merchandise for access by custorne'rs comprising a central tower structure whose height is greater than its maximum transverse horizontal dimension, said tower being constructed of an outer wall confining the merchandise haphazardly within the volume defined by said outer wall of the tower structure, an opening in an upper portion of said tower structure to permit merchandise to be loaded therein, openings in the outer wall of said tower structure to permit merchandise in contacttherewith to be viewed though said openings, said tower structure having an open bottom, means supporting said tower structure above a substantially horizontal access surface to provide a gate. between the bottom of said tower structure and said access surface whereby merchandise placed within said tower will be permitted to pass out of said tower onto a portion of said access surface constituting a horizontal margin extending outside said tower supporting means, and a fence structure defining said margin and restricting free movement of merchandise beyond such margin under the influence of the weight of merchandise within said tower structure.
2. A display as defined in claim 1 in which the wall of said tower structure extends upwardly in a direction which may vary from vertical to inwardly from the said open bottom to permit free flow of any article of merchandise within said tower, except as restrained by the presence of other articles of merchandise, toward said bottom opening. 7
3. A display as defined in claim 2 in which said walls are comprised of a plurality of panel portions, hinge means connecting adjacent panel portions and providing suificient lost motion to permit said structure to be collapsed into a relatively flat condition for shipment and storage, said hinge means being located along vertically extending edges of adjacent panel portions whereby outward pressure of merchandise within said tower structure will urge said panels outwardly to define the maximum plan area permitted by the circumferential length thereof and, thereby, tend to stabilize said tower structure.
4. A display structure as defined in claim 3, in which a horizontal tier of a plurality of adjacent panels are connected by hinge means and the hinge means connecting one pair of panels in the tier are disconnectable latch means comprising a keeper connected to panels and a bolt pivotally and removably secured in said keeper.
5. A display structure as defined in claim 4 in which said tower structure comprises a plurality of super-imposed sections, means connecting said sections, and the opening for filling merchandise in said tower structure is an open top of the uppermost section.
6. A display for merchandising balls and adapted to be mounted on a structure providing a horizontal access surface in order to present specimen balls for access by customers comprising a vertically extending fence structure carried by said access surface and defining a horizontal access area beyond which said fence restrains said balls from rolling, a tower structure separable said access area and fence structure and consisting of vertically extending wall panels each having a vertical height greater than its horizontal width, and hingedly connected at their vertically extending edges to define a volume adapted to be filled with haphazardly arranged balls, said panels thereby providing as a top opening through which balls may be loaded into said tower structure and an open bottom symmetrically arranged with respect to said top opening, through which open bottom a ball within said tower structure, except as restrained by other balls, will be free to fall onto said access surface and, except as further restrained by means for supporting said tower structure, be free to roll toward said fence structure, said tower structure having a lower edge of a length of at least a plurality of diameters of the largest ball intended to be displayed in said tower structure and means to support said tower structure so that said bottom edge is raised above said access area a vertical distance greater than said ball diameter but less than twice said diameter to provide a gate having a horizontal opening at least equal to a plurality of said diameters, said bottom opening being supported above and being of less area than said access area, whereby any one of a plurality of balls beneath said tower structure will be free, except as otherwise restrained by adjacent balls and said support means, to roll through said gate onto a margin of said access area located outside said bottom opening when space for such a ball is provided by removal of another ball from said margin, and said open bottom having an area at least as large as said top opening whereby, except for the influence of other balls contained in said tower structure, any ball loaded within said tower may fall freely into said access area.
7. In a ball display device in which a tower section is provided with a vertically extending wall portion terminating in a horizontal upper edge, said lower section being provided with gate portions permitting balls held therein to roll outwardly onto outer access portions from which a ball may be removed for purchase, a demountable upper section consisting essentially of a plurality of normally vertically extending panels and means hingedly connecting each panel to an adjacent panel along vertically extending adjacent edges, the lower edges of said connected panels being equal in length and configuration to the upper edge of said lower section and said hinges being located to permit said upper section to be placed on said upper section so that the lower edges of said panels of said upper section may rest in a congruent position on said upper edge of said lower section, and detent means to hold said upper section from slipping off said lower section when so placed thereon, whereby the total height of the display device will be greater than the largest transverse horizontal dimension of said lower section.
8. A ball display device as defined in claim 7, in which the vertically extending wall portion of said lower section is comprised of at least three panels joined along adjacent edges and each panel being of a rectangular or trapezoidal shape to provide said wall portion with a slope which may be vertical or upwardly convergent and in which said panels of said upper section are similar in number to corresponding panels in said lower section and the vertically extending edges of said panels in said upper section constitute linear extensions of corresponding vertically extending edges of said panels in said lower section whereby, when said upper section is mounted on said lower section, each panel in said upper section provides, in combination with its corresponding panel in said lower section, a continuous wall having a slope which permits a ball confined within said upper section to fall freely into said lower section, except as such ball may be otherwise solely constrained by adjacent balls in said upper section.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 329,029 Dye Oct. 27, 1885 1,833,857 Ruse Nov. 24, 1931 2,221,704 Farley Nov. 12, 1940 2,333,954 Rocker et al. Nov. 9, 1943 2,554,232 Young May 22, 1951 2,756,901 Cowsert July 31, 1956 2,940,642 Strattman June 14, 1960