Title:
ROTATING SUNGLASS MERCHANDISER DISPLAY UNIT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rotating sunglass merchandiser display unit includes vertical display panels disposed between top and bottom horizontal support members. At least one of the vertical display panels is rotatable between a first position for displaying sunglasses, eyeglass frames or similar merchandise, and a second position for displaying promotional material or other non-eyewear products. The display unit includes a locking mechanism for releasably locking the rotatable vertical display panel in either the first or second display positions.



Inventors:
Kidd, Christopher R. (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Ettinger, Judd A. (HAUPPAUGE, NY, US)
Bartley, Bruce J. (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Application Number:
09/343384
Publication Date:
01/03/2002
Filing Date:
06/30/1999
Assignee:
KIDD R. CHRISTOPHER
ETTINGER JUDD A.
BARTLEY BRUCE J.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/163, 211/165, 211/194
International Classes:
A47F7/02; (IPC1-7): A47F7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TRAN, KHOA H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GOTTLIEB RACKMAN & REISMAN PC (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A merchandise display unit for displaying sunglasses, non-prescription reading glasses or the like comprising: a first support member; a second support member; a display panel disposed between said first support member and said second support member, said display panel rotatably movable between a first eyewear display position and a second non-eyewear display position; said display panel including a nose bridge support member and temple openings for supporting an eyeglass frame for display when said display panel is in said first eyewear display position; and a locking mechanism on at least one of said first support member or said second support member for releasably locking said display panel in said first eyewear display position or in said second non-eyewear display position.

2. A merchandise display unit according to claim 1 further including: a display board carried by said display panel so that said display board is substantially visible when said display panel is in said second non-eyewear display position and so that said display board is substantially hidden from view when said display panel is in said first eyewear display position.

3. A merchandise display unit according to claim 2 wherein: said display board includes promotional material disposed thereon.

4. A merchandise display unit according to claim 3 wherein: said display board includes graphics disposed thereon.

5. A merchandise display unit according to claim 2 wherein: said locking mechanism includes a first flexible tab located on said first support member and a second flexible tab located on said second support member.

6. A merchandise display unit according to claim 5 wherein: said display panel includes a top wall and a bottom wall, each said top wall and said bottom wall including an indent for receiving a flexible tab of said locking mechanism.

7. A merchandise display unit according to claim 2 wherein: said display board includes temple openings for receiving the temples of the eyeglass frame when said display panel is in said first eyewear display position.

8. A merchandise display unit according to claim 7 wherein: said display panel further includes edge walls.

9. A merchandise display unit according to claim 8 wherein: said temple openings of said display panel are located through said edge walls of said display panel.

10. A merchandise display unit according to claim 9 wherein: said edge walls include tabs for releasably receiving said display board.

11. A merchandise display unit according to claim 1 wherein: said rotatable display panel defines a front wall, a plurality of sidewalls and an edge wall extending from each sidewall.

12. A merchandise display unit according to claim 11 wherein: said nose bridge support member further includes a protruding support extending from said front wall of said display panel and a nose bridge support opening located in said front wall of said display panel.

13. A merchandise display unit according to claim 12 wherein: said protruding support is slanted toward said front wall of said display panel.

14. A merchandise display unit according to claim 13 wherein: said protruding support is of an inverted u-shape.

15. A merchandise display unit according to claim 14 wherein: said protruding support terminates at its end furthermost from said front wall in a lip.

16. A merchandise display unit according to claim 13 wherein: said temple openings are located through said edge walls of said display panel and said temple openings are lower than said protruding support such that the eyeglass frame is tilted upwardly when said eyeglass frame is disposed on said display panel.

17. A merchandise display unit according to claim 16 further including: a display board carried by said display panel so that said display board is substantially visible when said rotatable display panel is in said second non-eyewear display position and so that said display board is substantially hidden from view when said display panel is in said first eyewear display position.

18. A merchandise display unit according to claim 17 wherein: said display board includes promotional material disposed thereon.

19. A merchandise display unit according to claim 18 wherein: said display board includes graphics disposed thereon.

20. A merchandise display unit according to claim 19 wherein: said locking mechanism includes a first flexible tab located on said first support member and a second flexible tab located on said second support member.

21. A merchandise display unit according to claim 20 wherein: said display panel includes a top wall and a bottom wall, each said top and bottom wall including an indent for receiving a flexible tab of said locking means.

22. A merchandise display unit according to claim 21 wherein: said display board includes temple openings for receiving the temples of the eyeglass frame when said rotatable display panel is in said first eyewear display position.

23. A merchandise display unit according to claim 22 wherein: said edge walls include tabs for releasably receiving said display board.

24. A merchandise display unit for displaying sunglasses, non-prescription reading glasses or the like comprising: a first support member; a second support member; a plurality of display panels disposed between said first support member and said second support member, at least one of said display panels rotatably movable between a first eyewear display position and a second non-eyewear display position; each of said plurality of display panels including a nose bridge support member and temple openings for supporting an eyeglass frame for display; and a locking mechanism on at least one of said first support member or said second support member for releasably locking said at least one rotatable display panel in said first eyewear display position or in said second non-eyewear display position.

25. A merchandise display unit according to claim 24 further including: a display board carried by said at least one rotatable display panel so that said display board is substantially visible when said at least one rotatable vertical display panel is in said second non-eyewear display position and so that said display board is substantially hidden from view when said at least one rotatable display panel is in said first eyewear display position.

26. A merchandise display unit according to claim 25 wherein: said display board includes promotional material disposed thereon.

27. A merchandise display unit according to claim 26 wherein: said display board includes graphics disposed thereon.

28. A merchandise display unit according to claim 25 wherein: said locking mechanism includes a first flexible tab located on said first support member and a second flexible tab located on said second support member.

29. A merchandise display unit according to claim 28 wherein: said at least one rotatable display panel includes a top wall and a bottom wall, each said top wall and said bottom wall including an indent for receiving a flexible tab of said locking mechanism.

30. A merchandise display unit according to claim 25 wherein: said display board includes temple openings for receiving the temples of the eyeglass frame when said at least one rotatable display panel is in said first eyewear display position.

31. A merchandise display unit according to claim 30 wherein: said at least one display panel further includes edge walls.

32. A merchandise display unit according to claim 31 wherein: said temple openings of said at least one rotatable display panel are located through said edge walls of said display panel.

33. A merchandise display unit according to claim 32 wherein: said edge walls include tabs for releasably receiving said display board.

34. A merchandise display unit according to claim 24 wherein: said plurality of display panels each defines a front wall, a plurality of sidewalls and an edge wall extending from each sidewall.

35. A merchandise display unit according to claim 34 wherein: said nose bridge support member further includes a protruding support extending from said front wall and a nose bridge support opening located in said front wall.

36. A merchandise display unit according to claim 35 wherein: said protruding support is slanted toward said front wall.

37. A merchandise display unit according to claim 36 wherein: said protruding support is of an inverted u-shape.

38. A merchandise display unit according to claim 37 wherein: said protruding support terminates at its end furthermost from said front wall in a lip.

39. A merchandise display unit according to claim 36 wherein: said temple openings are located through said edge walls and said temple openings are lower than said protruding support such that the eyeglass frame is tilted upwardly when said eyeglass frame is disposed on said display panels.

40. A merchandise display unit according to claim 24 wherein: at least a further one of said plurality of display panels is non-rotatable and is permanently in said first eyewear display position.

41. A merchandise display unit according to claim 40 further including: a second locking mechanism on at least one of said first support member or said second support member for permanently fixing said at least one non-rotatable display panel in said first eyewear display position.

42. A merchandise display unit according to claim 40 wherein: said display unit includes an even number of display panels.

43. A merchandise display panel according to claim 42 wherein: rotatable display panels alternate with non-rotatable display panels.

44. A merchandise display unit according to claim 24 wherein: the width of each display panel is greater than twenty times the distance between adjacent ones of said plurality of display panels, when said adjacent display panels are in said first eyewear display positions.

45. A multi-tier rotating merchandise display unit for displaying sunglasses, non-prescription reading glasses or the like comprising: a first rotating display unit including a first support member; a second support member; at least one display panel disposed between said first support member and said second support member, said at least one display panel rotatably movable between a first eyewear display position and a second non-eyewear display position; said at least one display panel including a nose bridge support member and temple openings for supporting an eye-glass frame for display when said at least one display panel is in said first eyewear display position; means on at least one of said first support member or said second support member for releasably locking said at least one display panel in said first eyewear display position or in said second non-eyewear display position; a second rotating display unit including a third support member; a fourth support member; at least one display panel disposed between said third support member and said fourth support member, said at least one display panel rotatably movable between a first eyewear display position and a second non-eyewear display position; said at least one display panel including a nose bridge support member and temple openings for supporting an eyeglass frame for display when said at least one display panel is in said first eyewear display position; means on at least one of said third support member or said fourth support member for releasably locking said at least one display panel in said first eyewear display position or in said second non-eyewear display position; said first rotating display unit being disposed on said second rotating display unit; and means on said first rotating display unit and on said second rotating display unit for connecting said display units together so that they rotate together.

46. A display unit for displaying merchandise comprising: a first support member; a second support member; at least one display panel disposed between said first support member and said second support member, said at least one display panel rotatably movable between a first display position and a second display position; and means on at least one of said first support member or said second support member for releasably locking said at least one display panel in said first display position or in said second display position.

47. A merchandise display unit according to claim 46 wherein: said at least one display panel includes a display board carried by said rotatable display panel so that said display board is substantially visible when. said at least one display panel is in said second display position and so that said display board is substantially hidden from view when said at least one display panel is in said first display position.

48. A merchandise display unit according to claim 47 wherein: said display board includes promotional material disposed thereon.

49. A merchandise display unit according to claim 48 wherein: said display board includes graphics disposed thereon.

50. A merchandise display unit according to claim 47 wherein: said locking means includes a first flexible tab located on said first support member and a second flexible tab located on said second support member.

51. A merchandise display unit according to claim 50 wherein: each of said at least one display panel includes a top wall and a bottom wall, each said top wall and bottom wall including an indent for receiving a flexible tab of said locking means.

Description:

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0001] Merchandiser display units are well known in the art. These units, ubiquitous at retail locations, serve the function of displaying a wide array of merchandise to consumers. Such merchandiser display units have found particular utilization in displaying sunglasses and/or non-prescription reading glasses. Although such display units are generally known in the art, they have, as a general rule, suffered from several disadvantages.

[0002] To begin with, the display units usually carry numerous sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses, for purposes of displaying these items to the consumer for eventual consumer purchase. As the consumer removes a sunglass or non-prescription eyeglass from the display, and purchases it, the display unit is left with a vacancy where the sunglass or non-prescription eyeglass was located. As more and more sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses are sold, more and more vacant locations on the display unit are created. This lessens the overall appeal of the display to other consumers for the remaining sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses. To overcome this, the display requires frequent restocking of the display unit, frequently from stock kept at a remote location, with commensurate time and effort of sales personnel.

[0003] Yet another disadvantage of existing display units, especially those for displaying sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses, arises in the rather large “foot print” which these units require, especially in display units which are used to display a significant number of sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses.

[0004] Yet a further disadvantage of existing merchandiser display units, especially those for displaying sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses, arises from the fact that a “trade off” must be made between displaying the sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses, and promotional or other materials relating to this merchandise. On one hand, the more merchandise that is displayed, the less room there is for promotional, advertising or other material. On the other hand, the more advertising, promotional or other material included in the display unit, the less room there is for displaying the actual eyewear merchandise.

[0005] A still further disadvantage of existing merchandiser display units, especially those used for displaying sunglasses, is that sunglasses tend to be seasonal merchandise in many parts of the United States. During the summer months, demand for sunglasses is high; the demand is lower in winter months. Retailers tend to move merchandiser display units for sunglasses to storage in winter months, especially if the display units have a large sunglass display capacity. If the units are stored away, sales of the sunglasses suffer since no sunglasses are available on the unit for consumer purchase. Moreover, the merchandiser units are sometimes damaged in storage.

[0006] Yet another disadvantage of existing merchandiser display units, especially those used for displaying sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses, results from the fact that frequently the retailer requires two types of display units, namely, a display unit for counter display and a display unit for floor display. This results in increased manufacturing costs, because two different types of units must be manufactured, namely, a shorter unit for counter top display and a taller unit for floor display.

[0007] Accordingly, it is a broad object of the present invention to provide a merchandiser display unit, particularly one for displaying sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses, which overcomes one or more of the disadvantages mentioned above.

[0008] Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a merchandiser display unit, particularly for displaying sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses, which enables a sales person to restock the display from stock located on the display unit so as to make it appear that the display unit has fewer display vacancies.

[0009] A still further object of the present invention is to provide a merchandiser display unit, particularly for displaying sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses, which has a relatively small footprint, but nonetheless accomplishes the goal of displaying a relatively large number of sunglasses or non-prescription eyewear in an efficient manner.

[0010] Yet a still further object of the present invention is to provide a merchandiser display unit, particularly for sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses, which allows the unit to have one or more areas for providing or displaying promotional material.

[0011] Another object of the present invention is to provide a merchandiser display unit, particularly for displaying sunglasses, in which the unit's capacity to display sunglasses may be seasonably adjusted—with more sunglasses being displayed in summer months and, if desired, fewer sunglasses being displayed in winter months, while still providing a display unit which is visually appealing during the winter “off” season.

[0012] Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a merchandiser display unit, for sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses, which is aesthetically pleasing, efficient in operation and display of the product, and which is relatively efficient to manufacture, in both counter and floor sizes.

[0013] These and other objects of the present invention are obtained in a merchandiser display unit for sunglasses and/or non-prescription eyewear having a first support member, a second support member and a plurality of vertical display panels disposed between the first support member and the second support member. At least one of the vertical display panels is rotatably movable between a first eyewear display position, in which the sunglasses or non-prescription eyewear are displayed, and a second non-eyewear display position which is assumed when all of the sunglasses have been removed from the vertical display panel. Each display panel includes a nose bridge support element and temple openings for supporting an eyeglass frame for display, when the rotatable support panel is in its first eyewear display position. The merchandise display unit includes locking means for releasably locking the rotatable vertical display panel in either its first eyewear display position or its second non-eyewear display position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] Further understanding of the invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description in conjunction with the drawings, in which:

[0015] FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a merchandiser display unit according to one embodiment of the present invention;

[0016] FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the merchandiser display unit of FIG. 1;

[0017] FIG. 3 is an enlarged, partial sectional view of the merchandiser display unit, taken along the line 3-3 of FIG. 2 and looking in the direction of the arrows, and further showing the merchandiser display unit carrying a pair of sunglasses or non-prescription eyeglasses;

[0018] FIG. 4 is a partial sectional view, taken along the line 4-4 of FIG. 3 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

[0019] FIG. 5 is a partial sectional view, taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 3 and looking in the direction of the arrows;

[0020] FIG. 6 is a sectional view, similar to that of FIG. 3, but showing one of the rotatable vertical display panels in its second, non-eyewear display position;

[0021] FIG. 7 is a partial sectional view, enlarged in scale, showing the interior of one of the rotatable vertical display panels of the present invention;

[0022] FIG. 8 is a partial sectional view, enlarged in scale, and taken along the line 8-8 of FIG. 7 and looking in the direction of the arrows, showing the details of the locking mechanism used to maintain one of the rotatable vertical display panels in position;

[0023] FIG. 9 is a perspective view showing further details of the present invention, with one of the rotatable vertical display panels being in a midway position;

[0024] FIG. 10 is a schematic view of a display board which is removably insertable into a rotatable vertical display panel;

[0025] FIG. 11 is a partial perspective view, showing further details of the present invention, with one of the rotatable vertical display panels in its second non-eyewear display position and with the display board being removed so as to show further constructional details of the merchandiser unit;

[0026] FIG. 12 is a front elevational view of a second embodiment of the merchandiser display unit of the present invention, in which one unit rests atop another so as to provide a merchandiser display unit particularly useful for floor displays; and

[0027] FIG. 13 is a sectional view, enlarged in scale, taken along the line 13-13 of FIG. 12, and showing how one display unit rests on another in the floor display embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] Referring now to the drawings, a merchandiser display unit, particularly useful in displaying sunglasses, non-prescription eyeglasses, or other eyewear according to the present invention is generally designated 10. Display unit 10 advantageously sits on a base or pedestal 11 which, as shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, may be generally square in configuration, although the shape of base 11 is not particularly important. The base is configured so as to enable merchandiser display unit 10 to sit on a counter at a retail or other location.

[0029] Display unit 10 includes a plurality of vertical display panels, generally designated 12, which are located between a top horizontal support panel 14 and a bottom horizontal support panel 16. As will be explained in more detail hereinafter, at least one of the vertical display panels 12a (see FIG. 3) is constructed to rotate, relative to the top support panel and the bottom support panel, with rotatable vertical display panel 12a being rotatable between a first eyewear display position, in which eyeglasses or sunglasses 34 are presented to the consumer for potential purchase (see FIG. 3), and a second non-eyewear display position, approximately 180 degrees from the first display position, in which the rotatable display panel presents promotional or other material to the consumer, once all of the eyeglasses or sunglasses 34 have been removed (see FIG. 6) In its first eyewear display position, the promotional or other material is substantially hidden from consumer view (see FIG. 3).

[0030] Each of the vertical display panels 12 is configured to include a somewhat curved front wall 18 and generally parallel sidewalls 20 (see FIG. 1) which extend rearwardly from the front wall. Each of the vertical display panels also includes a plurality of nose bridge support members, generally designated 24, which are disposed, one below the other, generally at the center of front wall 18 of the display panel (see FIG. 2).

[0031] Each nose bridge support member 24 is formed to support the nose bridge 36 of sunglasses or eyeglasses and, as such, each nose bridge support member includes a protruding, inverted and generally unshaped support 28 which protrudes outwardly from front wall 18 of the vertical display panel, as shown in FIG. 4 and in FIG. 9. Protruding support 28 is slanted downward toward front wall 18, in order to better support nose bridge 36 of a pair of sunglasses or other eyewear placed on the nose bridge support member. The inverted u-shape of support 28 and its slanted nature also provide a clean visual presentation and a secure location for sunglasses or eyeglasses, while permitting easy product removal from the display unit by the consumer. Further, support 28 may be formed with a notch or cutout on its upper surface for receiving a tag that hangs from bridge 36 of sunglasses 34.

[0032] To further facilitate this support and removal, protruding support 28 terminates, at one of its ends, in a nose bridge support opening 26 (see FIG. 4, FIG. 7 and FIG. 9) which is formed in front wall 18 of each of the vertical display panels. Opening 26 prevents damage to the bridge structure of the sunglasses or eyeglasses as these items are placed on the nose bridge support member, should the eyeglasses or sunglasses slip along the incline of protruding support 28. As shown in FIG. 4 and in FIG. 9, the other end of protruding support 28 terminates in an upstanding lip 30, which is provided so that the sunglasses or eyeglasses do not fall off the nose bridge support member.

[0033] Each vertical display panel 12 includes substantially identical edge walls 22 which extend outwardly from, and at the rear of, the respective sidewalls 20 of each vertical display panel and which terminate at end walls 22a (see FIG. 9). Each edge wall 22 includes a plurality of temple openings 32 which are adapted to receive the temples 38 of sunglasses or eyeglasses 34, when the sunglass or eyeglass is placed on the vertical panels 12 of display unit 10. As shown, for example, in FIG. 2 and FIG. 7, two temple openings 32 are provided for each nose bridge support member 24. As further shown, for example, in FIG. 7 (which shows a rear view of the vertical support panel), temple openings 32 define temple opening surfaces 32a which receive the corresponding right or left temple of the sunglass or eyeglass which is placed on the nose bridge support member 24. Temple opening surfaces 32a of temple openings 32 may be disposed somewhat lower than the protruding support 28 of nose bridge support member 24, thereby providing, along with nose bridge support member 24, a structure which tends to enable the sunglasses or eyeglasses 34 to rest against front wall 18 of the vertical display panels, thereby providing a secure, albeit removable, support for the sunglasses or eyeglasses within merchandiser display unit 10. This also positions the displayed sunglass or eyeglass at an upward angle for increased visibility.

[0034] Rotatable vertical display panel 12a is also configured to receive advertising or promotional material, in the form of a generally rectangular and planar board 42 (see FIG. 10), which is carried at the “rear” of the rotatable display panel. Specifically, the sidewalls 20 of the rotatable vertical display panels define tabs 40 which allow the display board 42 to slip in, and be held in place within, rotatable vertical display panel 12a: As shown, for example, in FIG. 3, board 42 may advantageously be slightly wider than the distance between the tabs 40 of the edge wall, such that when the board 42 is inserted it remains slightly bow-shaped thereby insuring that the board is kept in position as display panel 12a is rotated, as will be explained hereinafter.

[0035] Board 42, which may advantageously have artwork or graphics printed thereon, may also be formed to include temple openings 43, thereby allowing temples 38 of the sunglasses or eyeglasses 34, to pass not only through temple openings 32 in edge wall 22, but also through the display board 42, as shown in FIG. 3.

[0036] As shown, for example, in FIG. 7, FIG. 9 and FIG. 11, each of the vertical display panels 12 includes a top wall 44 and a bottom wall 46. Top wall 44 and bottom wall 46 cooperate with top horizontal support panel 14 and bottom horizontal support panel 16, respectively, to allow rotatable movement of rotatable vertical display panel 12a from the position generally shown in FIG. 3 to the position generally shown in FIG. 6. To this end, bottom wall 46 of the display panel includes a post opening 48, which is sized to receive a post 50 that extends upwardly from bottom horizontal support panel 16, as indicated in FIG. 9. Similarly, top wall 44 of the vertical display panel includes an opening (not shown) which enables a similar post 50a, which extends downwardly from top horizontal support panel 14, to provide a pivot or turning point near the top of the display panel, as illustrated in FIG. 11.

[0037] A post collar 51, shown in FIG. 7, provides further support and facilitates the turning or pivoting action of rotatable vertical display panel 12a relative to bottom support panel 16. A similar post collar (not shown), formed as part of top horizontal support panel 14, similarly facilitates the rotational movement of rotatable display panel 12a relative to support panel 14.

[0038] Merchandiser display unit 10 also includes a locking mechanism which releasably locks rotatable vertical display panel 12a in either its first eyewear display position, shown generally in FIG. 3, in which the display board is hidden from view and in its second non-eyewear position, wherein the display board 42 is viewable, as generally shown in FIG. 6.

[0039] Specifically, bottom wall 46 of vertical display panel 12a includes indents 52 defining stop surfaces 54. Similar indents are also included (but not shown) in top wall 44 of the vertical display panel. These indents are adapted to receive flexible tabs 56, formed on both top horizontal support panel 14 (see FIG. 11) and on bottom horizontal support panel 16 (see FIG. 7 and FIG. 9). Each flexible tab 56 defines one or more detent buttons 58, thereby providing a detent button surface 57 or a detent button surface 59 which is adapted to make contact with stop surface 54 on rotatable vertical display panel 12a. With display panel 12a in its first display position, flexible tabs 56 fit within indents 52, with stop surface 54 of an indent abutting detent button surface 57 of a flexible tab. With rotatable vertical display panel 12a rotated 180 degrees, so that the display panel is now in its second non-eyewear display position, flexible tabs 56 also fit within indents 52, but this time detent button surfaces 59 abut stop surfaces 54. As will be explained hereinafter, as rotatable display panel 12a is rotated, flexible tabs 56 flex to clear respective stop surfaces 54, thereby facilitating rotation of display panel 12a between its first eyewear display and its second non-eyewear display positions.

[0040] While one or more of the vertical display panels 12a are rotatable, it is often beneficial for the entire merchandiser display unit 10 to also rotate. To this end, display unit 10 is adapted to receive a central tube 60, which is attached to base 11. Central tube 60, which passes through an opening defined by collars 62 in bottom horizontal support panel 16 and a corresponding collar (not shown) in top horizontal support panel 14, allows the merchandiser display unit 10 to be supported by, and rotate around, central vertical tube 60. Suitable thrust bearings and washers (not shown) may be included to permit easy rotation of the merchandiser display unit relative to central tube 60.

[0041] In order add rigidity to merchandiser display unit 10, the display unit includes a plurality of ribs which are formed, for example, in top horizontal support panel 14, bottom horizontal support panel 16 and vertical display panels 12. Thus, bottom horizontal support panel 16 includes, as shown for example in FIG. 3, radial ribs 64 which extend outwardly from collar 62, circular rib 66 generally concentric to collar 62, and radial ribs 67 which extend from circular rib 66. Cross ribs, 68, are also provided. Similar ribs (not shown) are formed in top horizontal support panel 14. To add further strength, vertical display panels 12 are formed to include cross ribs 31, each of which supports an upstanding flange 33, which is formed to abut the rear of protruding support 28 of nose bridge support member 24, thereby adding strength to the vertical display panel in the area of each nose bridge support member.

[0042] To further provide strength and structural integrity to merchandiser display unit 10, the unit is desirably formed with one or more vertical display panels 12b which do not rotate, that is, these vertical display panels may be permanently and securely attached to top and bottom horizontal support panels, 14 and 16, in a non-rotating manner. This may be accomplished by providing pins or screws (not shown) which pass through top horizontal support panel 14 and top wall 44 of each non-rotating vertical display panel 12b. Similar pins or screws (not shown) may also be provided to fasten bottom wall 46 of non-rotating vertical display panel 12b to bottom horizontal support panel 16, thereby also preventing the display panel from rotating relative to the bottom horizontal support panel.

[0043] Alternatively, or in addition to the screws and/or pins, other ways may be provided to prevent vertical display panel 12b from rotating. For example, and as illustrated in FIG. 5, bottom horizontal support panel 16 may include one or more locking barbs 72 which are carried by an upstanding wall 70, with the barb 72 cooperating with bottom wall 46 of non-rotating vertical display panel 12b, to also fixedly secure bottom horizontal support panel 16 to non-rotating display panel 12b. Locking barb 72 advantageously engages non-rotating display panel 12b at indent 52 and stop surface 54 formed in the bottom wall 46 of the non-rotatable vertical display panel, thereby keeping panel 12b fixed in place. One or more corresponding locking barbs (not shown) may also be formed in top horizontal support panel 14 to engage the indents formed in top wall 44 of non-rotating display panel 12b to keep panel 12b fixed in place.

[0044] Each non-rotating vertical display panel 12b, which is locked in place so as to display the eyeglasses or sunglasses, functions as a structural member of the entire merchandiser display unit 10, thereby eliminating or lessening the need for additional vertical support components. Preferably, an even number of vertical display panels 12 are provided, with rotating vertical display panels 12a alternating with fixed or non-rotating vertical display panels 12b.

[0045] The merchandiser display unit 10 may also be formed in a floor display version, with this embodiment being illustrated in FIG. 12 and FIG. 13. In this embodiment, two substantially identical merchandiser display units 10a and 10b, generally described previously, are provided with merchandiser display unit 10a resting on merchandiser display unit 10b, and with central column 60 extending through both units. Each display unit 10a and 10b is formed with a locating and locking post 74 which fits within a corresponding locating and locking opening 76 formed in the other unit, thereby maintaining both units 10a and 10b together so that they can rotate as a single unit. Thus, as shown in FIG. 13, locating and locking post 74a of unit 10a fits into, and is held in place within, locating and locking opening 76b formed in display unit 10b. Similarly, locating and locking post 74b fits within and cooperates with locating and locking opening 76a formed in display unit 10a, as illustrated in FIG. 13. A base pedestal 78 may be provided should it be necessary to add further height to the floor display unit.

[0046] Since the floor unit essentially is formed of two or more identical counter units stacked one atop the other, manufacturing costs are reduced since multiple different molds are not required for the floor and counter units.

[0047] In operation, a plurality of sunglasses or other eyewear is placed on merchandiser display unit 10; the sunglasses or eyeglasses 34 are placed on nose bridge support members 24 such that nose bridge 36 of each sunglass or eyeglass rests on a corresponding protruding support 28 and such that the temples 38 of each eyeglass or sunglass pass through corresponding temple openings 32 within edge walls 22.

[0048] It should be noted that edge walls 22 of adjacent vertical display panels are disposed close to each other, that is, a minimum gap is provided between end walls 22a of adjacent vertical display panels, thereby providing an aesthetically “clean” look without large gaps between adjacent vertical display panels which would otherwise reveal the inside of the unit.

[0049] Typically, a respective vertical display panel 12 is approximately 5¾ inches (the distance being measured from end wall 22a to end wall 22a of the vertical display panel), each edge wall 22 of a respective vertical display panel 12 is approximately ¾ inches wide (the distance being measured from end wall 22a to side wall 20) and the distance between side walls 20 is approximately 4¼ inches. This enables the corresponding temple openings 32 to be separated by approximately 5 inches (when measured between the centers of each opening 32). On the other hand, the gap between end walls 22a of adjacent vertical display panels 12 is no more than approximately ¼ inch, and preferably between about {fraction (1/16)} inch and {fraction (1/32)} inch. Thus, the width of display panel 12 is over twenty times greater than the gap between adjacent vertical display panels. This provides an aesthetically pleasing look and a minimum gap between adjacent panels.

[0050] Temples 38 of sunglasses or eyeglasses 34 also pass through temple openings 43 in each of the display or promotional boards 42, with each board located only on rotating display panels 12a, it being noted that display boards 42 are viewed only when rotatable display panel 12a is in the non-eyewear display position (see FIG. 6). There is no need for a board 42 to be inserted into a non-rotating vertical display panels 12b, since these panels are always in their eyewear-display position; these non-rotating display panels 12b do not move and do not include a display board 42 which would not be seen by a consumer.

[0051] As customers purchase the sunglasses or eyeglasses 34, various vacancies are created along vertical display panels 12. In due course, the sales person advantageously removes the remaining sunglasses or eyeglasses from one of the rotatable vertical display panels 12a, placing them in the once-vacant locations on other panels. Rotatable vertical display panel 12a, now empty; is then rotated 180 degrees, with the flexible tabs 56 allowing movement of display panel 12a relative to top and bottom horizontal support panels 16 and 18 by flexing (see FIG. 8) to allow detent buttons 58 to “clear” the rotating display panel. (Rotatable vertical display panel 12a should be rotated only after all the sunglasses or eyeglasses have been removed—otherwise the sunglasses or eyeglasses will hit an adjacent display panel 12, resulting in possible damage to the merchandise.) After approximately 180 degrees of movement, rotatable vertical display panel 12a is moved from its sunglass or eyeglass display position (see FIG. 3) to the second non-eyeglass display position, where promotional board 42 is now visible (see FIG. 6). In this second position, flexible tabs 56 engage indents 52, such that stop surfaces 54 of the indents engage or abut the respective surfaces 59 of the flexible tabs, to releasably lock vertical display panel 12a in place in this non-eyeglass display position.

[0052] In both display positions, flexible tabs 56 are disposed within indents 52 and abut stop surfaces 54. In the first eyeglass display position, however, surfaces 57 of detent buttons 58 abut stop surfaces 54; while in the second non-eyeglass display position, surfaces 59 of detent buttons 58 abut the stop surfaces.

[0053] By treating rotatable vertical display panel 12a as a source of sunglasses or eyewear to be used to fill vacant locations on fixed vertical display panel 12b,-the rotatable display panel is “emptied” of sunglasses or eyeglasses and, once emptied, display panel 12a is then rotated so as to assume its second non-eyewear display position in which board 42, carrying artwork, graphics or items ancillary to the sale of the eyewear, may be viewed by the consumer.

[0054] Rather than providing vacant locations which would otherwise detract from appeal to the consumer, rotating vertical display panel 12a provides enhanced consumer appeal for display unit 10 by allowing graphics, promotional material or even other non-eyewear items to be displayed when the sunglasses or eyeglasses have been removed, i.e., when display panel 12a is in its second non-eyewear display position (FIG. 6). Moreover, since display board 42 is hidden from view when rotatable vertical display panel 12a is in its first eyewear display position (FIG. 3), display board 42 does not detract from sale of the sunglasses or eyeglasses, when rotatable display panel 12a is carrying or displaying the sunglasses or eyeglasses carried by this panel.

[0055] Eventually, rotatable vertical display panel 12a is moved back to its eyeglass display position (with tabs 56 allowing such rotational movement, by flexing so that detent buttons 58 clear stop surfaces 54), and additional sunglasses or eyeglasses may be placed on display panel 12a from stock kept at a remote location or from other rotatable display panels.

[0056] It will thus be apparent that the objects set forth above among those made apparent from the preceding description, are efficiently attained and, since certain changes may be made in the construction without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

[0057] Thus, while the invention has been described as including both rotating and non-rotating vertical display panels 12a and 12b, respectively, it is to be understood that only one panel need be rotatable; alternatively, all of the display panels may be rotatable. Similarly, while display board 42 has been described as including advertising or promotional material, such as graphics or artwork, it will be appreciated that the board may carry other products or items, such as a pocket for brochures, which may be mounted on board 42. Board 42 may also carry, alone or in combination with the graphics, one or more hooks for holding non-eyewear merchandise. This is particularly useful when the display unit is used in times when purchase of sunglasses is at a lower demand than peak seasons, since rotating display panels 12a may be kept in their second non-eyewear display positions so as to display other merchandise, and keep the overall quantity of sunglasses on display unit 10 at a smaller number than when demand for sunglasses is higher. This allows display unit 10 to have a sunglass display capacity which is seasonably adjusted.

[0058] Still further, while flexible tabs 56 which cooperate with detents 52 have been described as releasably locking rotatable vertical display panel 12a in the first eyewear display position and the second non-eyewear display position, it should be recognized that other releasable locking mechanisms may be provided for releasably locking vertical display panel 12a in either of its two display positions.

[0059] Finally, although the invention has been described as having particular usefulness in the display of sunglasses, eyeglasses, or other like products, it will be appreciated that the display unit may be usable for displaying non-eyeglass or eyewear merchandise, if so desired.

[0060] It is also to be understood that the following claims are intended to cover all of the generic and specific features of the invention herein described and all statements of the scope of the invention which, as a matter of language, might be said to fall therebetween.