REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This patent application relates to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/149,148, filed Feb. 2, 2009 in the name of Tonja Weed and follow up U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/239,264, filed Sep. 2, 2009, in the name of Tonja Weed, the entire disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to shopping bags used to simultaneously transport different types of items. The present invention specifically relates to a shopping bag system comprising a plurality of different types of bags.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
While grocery store products are displayed in an organized fashion and grocery lists are usually written in an organized fashion, the end result of the grocery experience is typically a disorganized collection of grocery bags that are randomly packed and therefore must be randomly unpacked. This leads to either multiple trips around the house and kitchen to place goods, or a total unpacking and reorganizing of objects before they can be placed efficiently. This current system also increases the risk of food spoilage as temperature sensitive items are hidden among nonperishable items until they are discovered at the end of the task, which may be delayed for various reasons. Furthermore, grocery bags (paper, plastic or reusable) are typically uniform in size and character despite an actual wide range of products bought at the grocery store.
What is desired is an organized and efficient system that removes the chaos from unpacking grocery bags. Such a system organizes the bought items as they are being packed into labeled and customized bags at the grocery store, so that the items can more efficiently be carried from the car into the house and then be placed directly at the ideal location for final unpacking.
This system is useful for persons who buy the majority of their groceries once every 7-14 days. This is typical for the modern family in a suburban household, where coupons, car transportation, and busy lifestyle promote buying in bulk. In fact, this grocery system encourages this type of shopping because it provides a more organized and efficient way to transport and unload groceries, which can be the worst part of the grocery shopping experience for the many shoppers who buy in bulk. Fewer trips to the grocery store and the use of this reusable grocery bag system also promote responsible environmental awareness and stewardship.
Prior art concerning grocery bag systems have been concerned with bag portability, or ease of carrying multiple bags into a shopping area, as well as aesthetics of the bags. Examples can be found in U.S. Patent Publication 2008/0199107 to Nicholson; U.S. Pat. No. 5,029,385 to Ledesma; U.S. Pat. No. 5,182,895 to Lugo; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,046,860 to Brennan.
In addition, there is a history of individual bags designed for transport of individual items. Reference is made to U.S. Pat. No. 560,469 to Butts and Griggs; U.S. Pat. No. 2,473,429 to Hinman; U.S. Pat. No. 4,542,826 to Adams; U.S. Pat. No. 5,813,445 to Christman; U.S. Pat. No. 6,152,202 to Magid; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,078,595 to Mittelman. However, there has not been a system of bags designed to accommodate specific groups of grocery items.
The goal of the invention is to organize and efficiently transport the items from the shopping center to the specific areas of the home in which the items are stored for later use. Specifically, multiple bags are labeled and customized to accommodate different groups of items.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is directed to a system for organizing and holding articles, comprising a plurality of shopping bags, wherein each shopping bag comprises a storage compartment including first and second front and back pliable end panels connected to opposing third and fourth pliable side panels, wherein each of the panels has a top edge and a bottom edge, wherein the plurality of panels are connected at bottom edges to a pliable base panel, and a bag identifier including bag identification indicia; and a storage bag suitable for storing the plurality of shopping bags.
The present invention is further directed to a shopping bag for organizing and holding articles. The shopping bag includes a storage compartment which has first and second front and back pliable end panels connected to opposing third and fourth pliable side panels, wherein each of the panels has a top edge and a bottom edge, wherein the plurality of panels are connected at bottom edges to a pliable base panel. The panels include a fold line approximately midway between the top and bottom edges to allow folding of the shopping bag. The shopping bag further includes a bag identifier.
The present invention is also directed to a shopping bag system which comprises a plurality of shopping bags of different sizes and shapes and a storage bag. Each of the shopping bags include a storage compartment with first and second front and back pliable end panels connected to opposing third and fourth pliable side panels, wherein each of the panels has a top edge and a bottom edge, and wherein the plurality of panels are connected at bottom edges to a pliable base panel. Each panel may also include a fold line approximately midway between the top and bottom edges of the panels to allow folding of the shopping bag. The shopping bag also has a bag identifier selected from the group consisting of identifying labels, identifying index tags and identifying indicia on the bag. The shopping bags also preferably include a carrying handle dependant from the top edge of at least two panels and may include a divider for placement of fragile articles, wherein the divider is secured to the upper edges of the panels. Finally, the shopping bag may include a support board to assist in the integrity of the folded shopping bag.
The bagging system of the present invention identifies groups of grocery items and then attempts to tailor the design of each of the bags to the unique features of the particular groups of items.
The present invention provides a unique reusable shopping bag system that is useful for people who are shopping once every 7-14 days for the majority of their grocery needs. A grocery bag system in accordance with the present invention includes several different sizes and types of bags incorporated together into a labeled system, so that the consumer has the benefit of being able to keep different shopping items organized.
A shopping bag system in accordance with the present invention may be adapted and used for any type of shopping, but is particularly adapted for grocery shopping. The ability to keep different grocery items separated in a single bag system provides many advantages. For example, using a bag system in accordance with the present invention, it is easier to keep food kosher, to keep frozen foods from melting as well as perishable foods cold, and to keep fragile items from being crushed. Also, as the bagger at the grocery store follows the bag labels to direct item packing, the items are more efficiently fitted into the provided, customized bags.
A shopping bag system in accordance with the present invention includes multiple collapsible bags, any of which can be the bag into which the other bags are folded and stored. In addition, for the grocery bagger to easily review and choose the proper bag within the chosen storage bag, each individual bag can have labels or tags at the edges, so that in the storage position, each bag has an index tab. Alternatively, the fabric of the individual bags may pictorially correspond with the items for which it is intended. In this way, written labels may be omitted.
This invention's unique concern is the organization and efficiency of a bag system as it pertains to the items being carried. This system assumes the consumer will carry multiple bags into a grocery or other type shopping activity, and furthers that activity by giving immediate gratification with the shopping experience by providing an organized and efficient system that is superior to the disorganization and inefficiency of traditional disposable or reusable bags. This system is also uniquely concerned with the ease of use of such a system by the grocery bagger, in cases where the consumer uses a traditional checkout lane. Without such a system, the consumer must constantly direct the bagger as to how items should be organized and efficiently packed. However, with this unique system, the bagger can be self directed to review and appropriately choose the proper bag for the corresponding items
Further objects, features, and advantages of the invention will appear more fully from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention made in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1A is a front plan view of one bag, termed a “tall” bag of the present invention.
FIG. 1B is a front plan view of the bag of FIG. 1A illustrated in folded, upright configuration for storage.
FIG. 2A is a front plan view of a second “wide” bag of the present invention.
FIG. 2B is a front plan view of the bag of FIG. 2A illustrated in folded, upright configuration for storage.
FIG. 3A is a front plan view of a third embodiment of a “small” bag of the present invention.
FIG. 3B is a front plan view of the bag of FIG. 3A illustrated in an inverted, upright configuration for storage.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the “tall” bag of FIG. 1A shown in use as a storage bag to hold other bags in the system of the present invention.
FIG. 5 is a front plan view of the “wide” bag of FIG. 2A shown in use to store other bags in the system of the present invention.
FIGS. 6 A-C are perspective views of the “small” bag, also illustrated in FIG. 3A, as used to store other bags in the system of the present invention.
FIGS. 7 A-D are perspective views of alternative embodiments of the “tall” bag illustrated in FIG. 1A.
FIGS. 8 A-D are perspective views of alternative embodiments of the “wide” bag illustrated in FIG. 1A.
FIGS. 9 A-E are perspective views of alternative embodiments of the “small” bag illustrated in FIG. 3A.
FIGS. 10 A-F illustrate various front plan views of yet another embodiment of the bags of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
An exemplary shopping bag system in accordance with the present invention will be described in detail now. Although the present invention will be described in detail with reference specifically to a shopping bag system for grocery shopping, it should be understood that a shopping bag system in accordance with the present invention may be adapted to any other shopping or transportation situation where it is desired to keep different types of items separated within a single bag system.
With reference to the drawings and particularly FIGS. 1A-3B, the shopping bag system 5 in accordance with the present invention comprises multiple bags 10, 12, 14 of different types combined together into a single system 5. Referring to FIGS. 1A, 2A and 3A, the system 5 in accordance with the present invention includes varying numbers of bags generally consisting of three general types: a tall bag type 10, a shorter, wide bag type 12, and a small bag type 14. It should be understood that the shopping bag system 5 in accordance with the present invention may include different and/or additional bag types in different sizes, numbers, and/or combinations from those illustrated and described herein. These approximate sizes are determined by size of product packaging as well as weight. For a grocery bag system, a preferred goal weight for each bag would be approximately 20 lbs. or less.
An example of an exemplary bag system 5 of the present invention may consist of eleven bags comprising two tall bags 10, four wide bags 12, and five small bags 14.
All of the bags 10, 12 and 14 forming the system may be made of any appropriate material known to the art, such as designer fabric, canvas, nylon, or polypropylene. As will be seen with reference to FIG. 9A, the bags may include insulating material and plastic lining. Preferably, the material selected for the bags is lightweight, washable, and collapsible with minimal bulk. Strength and durability and suitability for the particular items to be transported in a particular bag in the system also should be considered in selecting the appropriate material.
Each of the bags 10, 12 and 14 in the system may include carrying straps or handles 20, 22 and 24 as illustrated in FIGS. 1A, 2A and 3A. The carrying straps are preferably made of canvas, nylon weave, or other appropriate sturdy and washable material, and may be attached to the body of the bag in any appropriate manner, e.g., by sewing. As illustrated in FIG. 5, an attachment ring 26 or similar fastener may be provided to hook the straps 20, 22 and 24 of the storage bags 10, 12, 14 to a grocery cart (not illustrated). This keeps the entire system 5 in plain view but out of the way of the consumer. Alternatively, handles may be omitted for one or more bags. This may be preferred by the consumer for fragile items, as a visual reminder to carefully carry those bags without a handle.
As illustrated in FIGS. 7D, 8D and 9D, the bag system 5 may also include slipcovers 30, 32 or 34. The slipcovers 30, 32 and 34 may be utilized not only as a way to keep the bags 10, 12, 14 clean and promote longevity of the bag system, but they allow decoration of the bags 10, 12, and 14 for personal taste and variety through the changing seasons and holidays. Alternatively, a blank canvas slipcover could be used for personal expression with fabric appropriate paint or photographs which can be transferred onto the slipcovers 30, 32 and 34 by a variety of print methods.
It is also within the scope of the present invention to provide a bag system 5 available with a coordinated color palette of fabrics. For example, the “summer” color palette may be of vibrant bold colors, “autumn” may consist of neutral colors, “spring” may include pastel colors, and “classic” may entail black and white fabric patterns. Additional color palettes or fabric choices may be utilized for the shopping bag system. Of importance to the present invention is the concept of using fabric combinations to identify the bag system 5 for easy use and access.
Referring to FIG. 7A, the tall bag 10 is preferably a four sided structure including a front panel 40, rear panel 42, two side panels 44 and 46, and a connected bottom panel 48. The interior 50 is accessed through the opening 52.
Referring to FIG. 8A, the medium or wide bag 12 includes a front panel 54, a rear panel 56, two side panels 58, 60 and a bottom panel 62. The interior 64 of the bag 12 is accessed through the opening at 66.
Referring to FIG. 9C, the small bag 14 includes a front panel 70, a rear panel 72, two side panels 74, 76 and a bottom panel 78. The interior 80 of bag 14 is accessed through the opening 82.
Each bag 10, 12, 14 includes a label 16 which identifies types of objects the bag is intended to hold. Additionally, each bag includes an index tab 18 which is identical in wording to the label 16. When bags are in the storage position, as illustrated in FIGS. 1B, 2B and 3B, the index tabs 16 allow for rapid identification of each of the bags. Suggested labels could include, but are not limited to: Bread, Eggs, and Flowers; Paper Goods; Cleaning Supplies; Fresh Produce; Cereals/Boxed Goods; Pantry; Meats; Dairy; Frozen; Canned Goods; and Personal Items.
Alternatively, each bag or slipcover fabric may itself pictorially represent and identify the items that are to be placed inside the bag. In such a situation, the labels and index tabs may be omitted, but the idea of organizing the items into corresponding bags is the same.
Reference is now made to FIG. 1A to illustrate the tall bag 10. As the title of the bag 10 suggests, this is the tallest or largest bag in the system 5. Suggested dimensions of the bag 10 are 14 inch width, 20 inch height, and 9 inch depth. The handles 20 are typically 10-12 inches in height from the bag opening 52 to allow the bag 10 to be carried on the shoulder. Illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 7A is a horizontal fold line 13 approximately midway down the front panel. This fold line 13 continues circumferentially to the rear panel 42 and side panels 44, 46 to allow folding of the bag 10. As illustrated in FIG. 1B, the bag 10 can assume a folded position with edge 15 as the base of the bag 10. The label 16 and index tab 18 identify the type of objects for which the bag is intended. This larger size bag 10 is designed for breads, paper goods, and cereal items as these are bulky and lighter weight objects. Further modifications of this bag, such as to accommodate fragile items like eggs and flowers, will be described in detail in accordance with FIGS. 7A-7D.
Reference is now made to FIG. 2A, which illustrates the wide bag 12. Bag 12 has different dimensions than bag 10. Suitable non-limiting appropriate dimensions include 14 inch width at the base, 19 inch width at the opening, 15 inch height, and 5 inch depth. The handles 22 can range from 7 inches in height for carrying heavier cleaning supplies, to 10 to 12 inches in height for medium weight pantry items or fresh produce which can be carried on the shoulder. As with bag 10, bag 12 also includes a fold line 23 at the midpoint of the front panel 54, rear panel 56 and side panels 58, 60 as illustrated in FIG. 8A. Bag 12 is illustrated in FIG. 2B in its folded form, standing upright on edge 25. The label 16 and index tab 18 identify the types of objects for which the bag is intended and are positioned for easy observation. Further modifications to the wide bag 12 will be described in detail in accordance with FIGS. 8A-8D.
FIG. 3A illustrates the small bag 14 having non-limiting approximate dimensions of 12 inch width, 14 inch height and 7 inch depth. The handles 24 are approximately 7 inches in height from the bag opening or edge 35. As with the other bags, there is a label 16 and index tab 18 identifying the types of objects for which the bag is intended, such as, Meats; Dairy; Frozen; Canned Goods; and Personal Items. Due to the size of bag 14, it may not be necessary to fold this bag for proper storage placement. Therefore, as illustrated in FIG. 3B, the small bag 14 is simply flattened, similar to a grocery bag, and then inverted for storage with edge 35 at the base. As illustrated in FIG. 6, the small bag 14 is also suitable to be a storage bag for the other bags in the system 5. In addition, the label 16 and tab 18 are prominently displayed in the storage position. Further modifications to bag 14 will be described with reference to FIGS. 9A-9E.
As illustrated in FIGS. 1B, 2B, and 3B, each of the bags 10, 12 and 14 are collapsed and/or folded for storage. It is within the scope of the present invention to use any bag for the storage bag. Referring now to FIG. 4, the tall bag 10 is open and used as a storage bag. As illustrated primarily in phantom, a second tall folded bag 10 is placed in the interior 50 of the tall bag 10 such that the edge 15 rests on the bottom panel 48 and the identification label 18 is prominently displayed in the opening 52 of the “storage” tall bag 10 for easy identification and access. Likewise, folded wide bag 12 and inverted small bag 14 are illustrated in the storage position, resting on edges 25 and 35, upon panel 48 and with identification labels 18 displayed in the opening 52 of the storage tall bag 10 for rapid and easy selection of desired bag.
Reference is made to FIG. 5, which shows in two dimensions, the wide bag 12 as the storage bag for including one or more of the collapsed and folded tall bag 10, wide bag 12, and small bag 14. All these collapsed bags are shown in phantom with the index tabs 18 prominently displayed at the opening 66.
Reference is now made to FIGS. 6A, 6B, and 6C, which illustrate the small bag 12 as the storage bag for each of the other bags 10, 12, and 14. As long as the bags are placed in the storage bag with the index tab 18 in the opening of the storage bag, the system is ready for rapid use. If the consumer has more bags than will fit into the chosen storage bag, another remaining bag can be used as a second storage bag. As illustrated in FIGS. 6A, 6B, and 6C, the “storage” small bag 14 does not have to include handles. This is an option for the design system or for particular bags if they are used to carry fragile items. A bag without handles would be a visual and effectual reminder to carefully carry these type bags. In the current system being illustrated, however, the non-illustrated handles of the storage small bag 14 are omitted only to showcase the phantom bags. In this manner, FIGS. 6A, 6B, and 6C further illustrate how the handles 20, 22, 24 of bags 10, 12, 14 are positioned in the storage bag 10 interior 80, away from the opening 82. This provides an unobstructed view of the index labels, which are positioned at the opening 82.
Reference is now made to FIG. 7A which illustrates an unmodified tall bag 10, which is appropriate for paper good items. FIG. 7C illustrates bag 10 with modifications for bread, eggs and flower items. As illustrated, an egg carton 81 and a flower arrangement 83 are secured by a divider 84 of netting or fabric which is fastened against the inside of the panels 40, 42, 44 and 46 of bag 10 by snap buttons 86, hook and loop fasteners or the like. As a result of the non continuous fastening of the divider 84 to the panels of the bag 10, there are spaces provided between the divider 84 and the panels. For example, a triangular space 88 illustrated by the arrow 90 is provided between panels 40 and 44 and the divider 84, allowing placement of flowers 83 to rest in an upright position. Additionally, the divider may be used to suspend an egg carton 81 or other highly fragile items in the manner of a hammock.
Reference is made to FIG. 7B for a top plan view of the divider 84 as it is attached to the panels 40, 42, 44 and 46 by attachment mechanisms 86.
Reference is now made to FIG. 7D to illustrate a modification applicable to any of the bags 10, 12 and 14, but specifically now described for bag 10. The modification is a slipcover 30 designed to cover the bag 10 and secure the slipcover 30 to the bag 10 by means of snap buttons, 92, 93 or the like when the bag 10 is telescoped into the slipcover 30. It is within the scope to use other fastener types, such as buttons or hook and loop fasteners. In addition, the slipcover 30 may include a label 16 and an index tab 18 for easy identification.
Reference is now made to FIG. 8A which illustrates wide bag 12. When the handles 22 are long as in FIG. 8A, the bag is appropriate for shoulder carrying medium weight items such as boxed pantry items or fresh produce. Alternatively, the handles 22 may be shorter, as illustrated in FIG. 8B, for heavier items, such as cleaning supplies. Further, the bag 12 may include a top cover 94 secured across the opening 66 with fasteners 96. The fasteners 96 are similar in design to the other fasteners described herein. Thus, this cover 94 can be used to prevent spillage of contents, especially those items prone to roll away from the bag 12 if the bag is inadvertently tipped on its side. FIG. 8C illustrates a top plan view of the bag with the top cover modifications. Although the top cover 94 is described and illustrated with reference to the wide bag 12, it is within the scope of the system to provide such a cover 94 to the other type bags 10 and 14.
Reference is now made to FIG. 8D for a frontal perspective of the slipcover design 32 of the bag 12 with fasteners 98 for secure placement of the slipcover 32 over bag 12. As with the other slipcover designs, the slipcover 32 also includes the identification label 16 and the index tabs 18.
Reference is now made to FIG. 9A which is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment to the small bag 14, which includes an insulation insert 100. The insert 100 allows different units of the modified bag 14 to be cleaned separately and more thoroughly. The insert 100 has fasteners 102 located along the upper rim 105 to secure the insert lid 104 to the rim 105 of the insert 100. It is within the scope to use hook and loop, snap or other button like fasteners to secure the insulator insert 100 and the lid 104 for proper closure. As illustrated in FIGS. 9A and 9B, the insulator 100 includes an attached lid 104, preferably with downwardly depending flaps 106 and a fastening mechanism 108 for sealing the lid 104 with the insulator 100 at positions 102. The insulator 100 is designed to be use for perishable and frozen foods.
As illustrated by arrows 107 in FIGS. 9A and 9C, the insulator 100 is placed within the small bag 14. As illustrated with arrows 109 in FIG. 9D, the slipcover 34 may be placed over the small bag 14 for protection and secured with fasteners 110. As with the slipcover 32, this slipcover 34 also includes the identification label 16 and the index tab 18.
An alternative and optional design of the lid 104 is illustrated in FIG. 9E. In this case, a flap 112 of material which matches the slipcover 34 is secured to the lid 104 with fastening units 114.
Referring now to FIGS. 10A, 10C, and 10E, each of the bags 10, 12 and 14 may require a support board 120, 122 or 124 to add integrity to the folded bag and to enable the bag to be properly folded and placed within the storage bag such that the index tabs 18 are kept at a proper height for easy and rapid identification. The support board 120, 122 and 124 is typically made of a lightweight hard material, such as plastic, polypropylene or cardboard. Preferably, the support board 120, 122 and 124 will be made of a material which is washable or, alternatively, removable for washing. If the support board is removable, the bags 10, 12 and 14 will require pockets 126, 128, 130 with openings 127, 129, 131 to remove the support board. Preferably, each of the openings 127, 129, 131 will have some form of closure apparatus 132, such as a hook and loop fastener or a snap button to keep the support board intact when the board is in use. FIGS. 10B, 10D and 10F illustrate each of the bags 10, 12 and 14 in their folded configuration with the support board.
Not illustrated, but now described are further modifications. The insulation insert could be permanently fixated, such as by sewing it into place. The insulation insert could have one or multiple dividers, such as to keep milk in place. The bags “Canned Goods” or “Personal Items” or “Pantry” could have removable or permanent plastic lining for protection and cleaning if containers with liquids break en route. The labels 16 and index tabs 18 could be left blank to allow the consumer to self label and utilize the bags for other purposes or to customize the bags to their shopping needs. Additional bags could be for “Beverages,” “School Supplies,” “Seasonal Items,” “Baby,” or “Pet Supplies,” just to name a few.
It is understood that the invention is not confined to the particular construction and arrangement of parts herein illustrated and described, but embraces such modified forms thereof as come within the scope of the following claims.