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Breaking open the small plastic package, Kirsten Blackmon grabs the rubber bracelets inside and clips them to her belt.
Blackmon, 11, has been on the hunt for the bracelets for months, checking out jewelry and specialty stores along with her 7-year-old sisters Alexa and Alysa. The fifth-grader found her latest additions at Maple Street Monograms in Lancaster, adding to her collection of more than 40 bracelets.
“You can wear them on your arm or you can put them on a clip like I do,” Blackmon said, flipping through the rainbow of bracelets dangling from her side. “But I really like to trade them at school.”
Called Silly Bandz, the colorful bracelets have become the newest collector’s trend, following in the footsteps of other popular fads, such as pet rocks to Pogs to Pokemon. Sold in packs of 24, each bag contains a different theme, with bracelets cast into many shapes, including circus animals, hearts, Band-Aids and fishing rods.
Rachel Phillips, 9, has also joined the bracelet craze. Glancing down at her arms, covered almost wrist to elbow in Silly Bandz, Rachel explained her collecting strategy.
“This one’s for trading and this one’s for keeping,” she said, holding up each arm.
She knows the bracelets well. Her father, Jason Phillips, is co-owner of Maple Street Monograms, which has carried the popular bracelets for a couple months. He said sales of Silly Bandz have skyrocketed.
“It’s really phenomenal to say the least,” Phillips said. “We’ve sold out of them several times.”
Each pack costs $4.50 at his store, and right now, he carries about 15 separate designs. Phillips said he keeps them in stock as best he can, but he gets rushes of customers throughout the day looking for the bands.
“The bands come in and then they sell out. It’s been crazy,” he said. “We’ve placed another order and expect a new shipment some time soon.”
As an added bonus, Phillips said the demand for bracelets has led to customers buying other items in his store.
“How much enjoyment can you get out of them? Apparently a lot. We’ve had kids from 3 to 30 to 70 years old come in,” Phillips said. “We’re getting some nice exposure for this. We’re very grateful for folks who come in. And because they come in, we’re getting known in the community.”
To continue the excitement over the bands, Phillips will host a trading party outside his store on May 22 from 11 a.m. to noon. He’ll serve refreshments and allow customers to trade their bracelets or come inside and buy more for their collections.
Ginny Sistare is also excited about the bracelets. Sistare, co-owner of Lancaster Jewelers on Great Falls Highway, said the response from the community about Silly Bandz has been overwhelming.
“Every morning when I get to work, there are at least four or more people waiting outside to buy them for their kids,” Sistare said. “My best experience was when a father and daughter came in to buy them. If you could see the smile on her face – she was tickled to death to get them.”
The bracelets cost between $4.99 and $5.99 in her store, depending on the amount in the package. Sistare keeps up on hot new trends by attending jewelry shows or speaking with distributors, which is how she discovered Silly Bandz.
“We’ve always been fashion-forward. We seek new items out,” she said. “People are coming in that have never been in here before and are seeing what we have to offer.”
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at Christopher Sardelli or at (803) 416-8416