Title:
Gondola extender
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In an embodiment, an extension is configured to be mounted in an upwardly facing socket provided in a gondola upright. The extension may include a shoulder for interfacing the upwardly facing socket. In an embodiment, the extension may be mounted on a shelf surface with the aid of an adaptor bracket.



Inventors:
Henke, David J. (Hawthorn Woods, IL, US)
Miller, Thomas Robert (Chicago Ridge, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/250558
Publication Date:
05/03/2007
Filing Date:
10/12/2005
Assignee:
RTC Industries, Inc. (Rolling Meadows, IL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/190
International Classes:
A47H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PUROL, SARAH L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BANNER & WITCOFF, LTD. (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A system for use in supporting a display in a upwardly facing socket in a gondola upright, comprising: an extension having a plurality of notches along a first face, the extension configured to be inserted into the socket of the gondola upright; a shoulder on the extension, the shoulder configured to interface with an edge of the upwardly facing socket on the gondola upright; and a restraining arm mounted to the bar, the restraining arm configured to extend along an outer surface of the gondola upright.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the restraining arm includes a fastener aperture.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein the restraining arm further includes a fastener mounted in the fastener aperture, the fastener configured to interface with the outer surface of the gondola upright so as to hold the extension in the upwardly facing socket.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein the bar is rectangular shaped.

5. The system of claim 3, wherein the bar has a hollow center.

6. The system of claim 3, wherein the gondola upright includes a plurality of notches having a spacing arrangement on the outer surface, wherein the plurality of notches in the bar are configured to approximate the spacing arrangement of the notches on the gondola upright.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the extension comprises a second face, the system further comprising a fastening mechanism positioned on the second face, the fastening mechanism configured in operation to support a panel.

8. An adaptor bracket for mounting an extender bracket to a shelf, the shelf including a plurality of perforations in a support surface, the bracket comprising: a base having an upper surface and a lower surface; an upwardly opening socket mounted on the upper surface of the base; and a plurality of fingers extending from the base, the plurality of fingers configured to engage the plurality of perforations in the shelf.

9. The adaptor bracket of claim 8, wherein the lower surface of the base is substantially flat.

10. The adapter bracket of claim 9, wherein the plurality of fingers comprise a first finger, a second finger, a third finger and a fourth finger, wherein the first, second, third and fourth fingers are substantially parallel.

11. The adaptor bracket of claim 10, wherein the first, second, third and fourth fingers extend along a plane below and substantially parallel to the lower surface of the base when the bracket is mounted on the support surface of the shelf.

12. A system for displaying information on a gondola, comprising: an extension, the extension having a first face, the face including a plurality of notches, wherein the extension is configured to engage a socket; and an adaptor bracket including a base with a first and a second surface, the first surface supporting an upwardly facing socket, wherein the adaptor bracket further including a plurality of fingers, the fingers configured to engage a plurality of perforations in a surface of a shelf.

13. The system of claim 12, wherein the extension includes a shoulder for engaging an edge of the upwardly facing socket and the bar further includes a restraining arm for extending along a surface of the upwardly facing socket.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the restraining arm includes a fastener aperture, the system further comprising a fastener for mounting in the fastener aperture, the fastener configured to engage the surface of the gondola.

15. The system of claim 14, further comprising a sign mounted to the face of the extension, the sign mounted to the face through an interaction with at least one of the plurality of notches in the face.

16. A method of displaying a sign on a gondola and shelf system, comprising: (a) mounting a bar in an upward facing socket, the bar including a plurality of notches on a first face and a restraining arm with an aperture; (b) mounting a fastener in the aperture of the restraining arm; (c) positioning the sign on the first face of the bar, the sign including an engaging feature for mounting to at least one of the plurality of notches.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the upward facing socket is provided in the gondola.

18. The method of claim 16, comprising: (d) mounting an adaptor bracket on the shelf, the adaptor bracket including the upward facing socket.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the shelf comprises a plurality of holes and the adaptor bracket includes a base and a plurality of fingers extending from the base, wherein the mounting in (d) comprises: (i) inserting the plurality of fingers in the plurality of openings.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the adaptor bracket further includes at least one opening and the mounting in (d) further comprises: (ii) securing the adaptor bracket to the shelf with at least one fastener, the at least one fastener mounted in the opening.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of merchandise displays, more particularly to the displaying of signs in a merchandise environment.

DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART

Gondola systems have been used to support and display products in a retail environment. In general, a gondola system include one or more gondola uprights, a gondola wall supported by the gondola upright, and one or more shelves supported by either the gondola upright or the gondola wall. The gondola upright may also be mounted on a base.

An advantage of the gondola system is that it typically provides shelves on both sides of the gondola wall and therefore is efficient in its use of space.

One problem with typical configurations of gondola systems is that there is often a lack of space for displaying advertisements and notifications to the individual walking past the gondola system. Signs can be placed on a front of the shelves but this it problematic because the signs are frequently knocked off or damaged by customers walking by the gondola system.

Some gondolas uprights include an opening that could be used to mount a sign. However, mounting a sign on the gondola upright can be problematic because different gondolas often have different sized openings and the opening, if provided, may be occupied or covered by other items. Therefore, it is difficult to systematically place signs on gondola shelf systems so as to provide a desired arrangement in a retail environment.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In an embodiment, a system including a gondola extender for supporting a sign on a gondola shelf system is provided. The gondola extender may be configured to be installed on a gondola upright. The gondola extender may include a restraining arm for securing the gondola extender to the gondola upright. One or more clips may be mounted on a second face and may be configured to support a panel. If desired, an adaptor bracket may be configured to support the gondola extender on a shelf.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is illustrated by way of example and not limited in the accompanying figures in which like reference numerals indicate similar elements and in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a simplified embodiment of a gondola system in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a simplified embodiment of a gondola upright in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates a top view of the gondola depicted in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4a illustrates a front view of an embodiment of an extension in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 4b illustrates a side view of the extension depicted in FIG. 4a.

FIG. 5 illustrates an elevated view of an embodiment of an adaptor bracket in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates a top view of an embodiment of an adaptor bracket in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 7 illustrates a view of the adaptor bracket depicted in FIG. 6 taken along the line 7-7.

FIG. 8 illustrates a view of the adaptor bracket depicted in FIG. 6 taken along the line 8-8.

FIG. 9 illustrates an embodiment of an extension mounted to a gondola upright in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates an embodiment of an extension mounted to a shelf in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 11a illustrates an embodiment of an extension in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 11b illustrates an alternative embodiment of an extension in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 12 illustrates an embodiment of a backing fastened to two extensions in accordance with an aspect of the present invention.

Before the embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including” and “comprising” and variations thereof is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items and equivalents thereof. Further, the use of the term “mount,” “mounted” or “mounting” is meant to broadly include any technique or method of mounting, attaching, joining or coupling one part to another, whether directly or indirectly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Looking first at FIG. 1, an embodiment of a gondola 5 is provided on a base 2. In an embodiment, the base 2 may be part of the gondola 5. In an alternative embodiment, the base 2 may be the support surface such as a floor. The gondola 5 may include a gondola upright 10 that may provide structural support for a gondola wall 30. One or more shelves 35 (FIG. 9) may be mounted on the gondola upright 10.

As can be appreciated, variations in the gondola 5 are possible. For example, in an embodiment the gondola wall 30 and the gondola upright 10 may be combined to form a single piece—not shown. In addition, the gondola 5 may have variations in certain dimensions that will be discussed in greater detail below.

Turning to FIGS. 2 and 3, an embodiment of a gondola upright 10 is depicted. The gondola upright 10 includes a face 12 and a plurality of notches 15 are provided in the face 12. As can be appreciated, the notches 15 are depicted as being provided in a pattern 16. More will be said about the pattern 16 below.

The gondola upright 10 further includes a top surface 19 in which an opening 18 is provided. The opening 18 includes an edge 17 and effectively provides a recessed upwardly facing socket 14 on the gondola upright 10.

FIG. 3 further illustrates the top surface 19. As can be appreciated, the opening 18 is in close proximity to the face 12. It should be noted that some variation in how the opening 18 is situated with respect to the face 12 is possible. For example, in different gondolas 5 the distance between the opening 18 and the face 12 may vary.

Turning to FIGS. 4a and 4b, an extension 40 is depicted with a face 42 on which a plurality of notches 43 are provided. As depicted, the extension 40 includes a shoulder 45 and a necked portion 46. The extension 40 includes a restraining arm 47 that is depicted as being mounted to the face 42 and may include an aperture 48.

The extension 40 may be made of cold rolled steel with a powder coating or may be made of other suitable materials with suitable coatings provided as appropriate.

As depicted the restraining arm 47 extends along a plane parallel to the face 42 but is some distance away from the necked portion 46. As will be discussed in greater detail below, this allows the extension 40 to mount to different upwardly facing sockets 14 (FIGS. 2 & 3) having different dimensions.

As depicted, the notches 43 are provided in an arrangement 41. As noted above, the gondola upright 10 may include the plurality of notches 15 in the pattern 16. While not required, the arrangement 41 may be substantially the same as the pattern 16 from a spacing standpoint so as to allow the extension 40 to provide notches 43 in a way that approximates the pattern 16. In an alternative embodiment, the arrangement 41 may be configured so as to provide the desired spacing between the notches 43 regardless of the pattern 16 provided on the gondola upright 10. While matching the patterns of the extension 40 and the gondola upright 10 can be useful, sometimes it is helpful to provide a consistent arrangement on the extension 40 so that whatever is mounted to the extension 40 can use the consistent arrangement without regard to variations in the gondola upright 10.

Turning to FIG. 9, an embodiment of an extension 40 mounted to a gondola upright 10 is depicted. As depicted, the shoulder 45 (FIG. 4a) is supported by the edge 17 (FIG. 2). As depicted, the extension 40 includes a first face 42 that includes a plurality of notches 43. The extension 40 is also mounted to the gondola upright 10 through the restrainer arm 47 and a fastener 60 that engages the gondola upright 10 through the aperture 48 (FIG. 4a).

As noted above, sometimes the upwardly facing socket 14 provided in the gondola upright 10 is covered or used by other attachments. For example, a decorative cover (not shown) might be placed over the top surface 19. However, it may still be useful to mount the extension 40 on the gondola 5 so as to provide a space for advertising or displaying other useful information.

Therefore, in an embodiment, some other method of mounting the extension 40 may be helpful. Turning to FIG. 5, an adaptor bracket 50 is illustrated. The adaptor bracket 50 includes a base 51 on which an upwardly facing socket 54 is mounted. The upwardly facing socket 54 includes an edge 56 that may be used to support the extension 40. As depicted, the based 51 further includes a plurality of bracket openings 52.

The base may also include a first finger 53a, a second finger 53b, a third finger 53c, and a fourth finger 53d. These fingers 53a-53d may be provided to help mount the adaptor bracket 50 to a shelf 80 (FIG. 10). It should be noted that some other number of fingers 53 is possible but preferably the base 51 will include at least two fingers 53 so as to provide more securing of degrees of freedom.

FIGS. 6-8 illustrate an alternative embodiment of the adaptor bracket 50. As can be appreciated, the base 51 includes a first surface 55 and a second surface 57. As depicted, the upwardly facing socket 54 is mounted on the first surface 55. In an embodiment, a socket aperture 58 may be provided in the upwardly facing socket 54 and the socket aperture 58 may be configured so as to be aligned with the aperture 48 in the restraining arm 47. While alignment is not required, an aligned socket aperture 58 may allow the extension 40 to mount to the adaptor bracket 50 in a more ridged manner.

Looking at FIG. 8, as can be appreciated, the fingers 53 include an upper surface 59. In an embodiment, as depicted in FIG. 8, a plane formed by the upper surface 59 will be below a plane formed by the second surface 57 when the second surface 57 is positioned on a horizontal shelf 35. In an embodiment the distance between the upper surface 59 and the second surface 57 will be equal to or slightly less than the material thickness of the shelf 35 so as to provide an interference fit that prevents the adaptor bracket 50 from moving once mounted to the shelf 35 (FIG. 10).

Looking at FIG. 10, the shelf 35 includes a number of perforations 37. In an embodiment, the adaptor bracket 50 may include two or more fingers 53 that are configured to be inserted into the perforations 37. Depending on the how the perforations 37 are situated, an adaptor bracket 50 with two fingers 53 may be capable of being installed in a wider variety of shelves 35. However, using more fingers 53 will tend to increase the frictional resistance and thus may be helpful in preventing the adaptor bracket 50 from shifting once it is installed.

As can be appreciated in FIG. 10, the bracket openings 52 may be omitted. In an alternative embodiment, such as depicted in FIGS. 6-8, the bracket openings 52 may be provided in an appropriate arrangement. If provided, the bracket openings 52 may be used to fasten the bracket adaptor 50 to the shelf 35. Such a mounting has the advantage of providing an additional force for holding the adaptor bracket 52 in place but in many situations will be unnecessary. In an embodiment, the fingers 53 may be omitted and the adaptor bracket 50 may be secured to the shelf 35 via one or more fasteners through one or more bracket openings 52.

As noted above, the retraining arm 47 is spaced apart from the necked portion 46. This can allow for flexibility in how the extension 40 is mounted. For example, the necked portion may fit snuggly within a variety of upwardly facing sockets 14 but may be overly loose in some. In such a situation, the restraining arm 47 allows the extension 40 to be installed and by placing a fastener 60 in the aperture 48 the extension 40 may be secured in position. It should be noted that if the restraining arm 47 is configured to be parallel to the face 42 it will help ensure the extension 40 is positioned in a vertical manner when the fastener 60 is installed and tightened.

Turning now to FIG. 11a, a side view of an embodiment of an extension 40 is depicted. As depicted, the extension 40 includes the first face 42 and the restrainer arm 47 positioned near the necked portion 46. The extension 40 also includes a lower clip 81 and an upper clip 82. It should be noted that the lower and upper clips 81, 82 are examples of fastening devices and together form the fastening mechanism 80.

It should be noted that the fastening mechanism 80 may also be other known means of mounting such as hook and loop fasteners, a snap, and the like. As can be appreciated, the fastening mechanism 80 preferably will be design to support a panel 90 (FIG. 12). It should be noted the fastening mechanism 80 may consist of the upper clip 82, may consist of the lower and upper clip 81, 82 or may consist of the lower clip 81. In an alternative embodiment of the fastening mechanism 80, additional fastening devices (not shown) may also be used. Thus, depending on the design of the fastening mechanism 80, and the panel 90, more or less fastening devices such as the lower clip 81 may be included.

Looking next at FIG. 11b, an alternative embodiment of an extension 40 is depicted. While similar to the extension 40 depicted in FIG. 11a, the extension 40 in 11b includes a low clip 81 and an upper clip 82 configured to releasably engage the panel 90 (FIG. 12). As depicted, the clips 81, 82 depicted in FIG. 11b are flexible and may be flexed so as to allow the panel 90 to be inserted between a portion of the clip 82 and a second face 49 of the extension 40.

In an embodiment, the fastening mechanism 80 depicted in FIGS. 11a and 11b may be a metal clip shaped as depicted in either FIG. 11a or FIG. 11b and the clips may be welded onto the extension 40. In an alternative embodiment, the clip may be made of other suitable materials such as plastic and may be mounted via any known method of mounting. An advantage of using the welded metal bracket design, however, is that it the extension 40 can be made more robust so as to withstand repeated cycles of use and storage. Furthermore, metal brackets are relatively resilient to repeated flexing and therefore the configuration of lower and upper clips 81, 82 depicted in FIG. 11b may be made more robust if the lower and upper clips 81, 82 are made of a metal material such as a steel alloy. Another advantage of the design depicted in FIGS. 11b is that the fastening mechanism 80 may be used for a variety of different panels 90 (FIG. 12) and therefore may have greater utility.

Turning to FIG. 12, a rear view of a panel mounted to two extensions 40 is depicted. As illustrated, the lower and upper clips 81, 82 on both extensions 40 are depicted as engaging the panel 90 and holding it in place.

It should be noted that the panel 90 may be made of any suitable material such as paper, plastic, cardboard, fabric or even metal. Depending on the intended panel construction, the type of fastener mechanism 80 (FIG. 11a) may be changed so that the extensions 40 are properly configured to support the panel 90. In alternative embodiments, not shown, more or less extensions 40 may be used to support the panel 90.

The present invention has been described in terms of preferred and exemplary embodiments thereof. Variations and modifications of the foregoing are within the scope of the present invention. It should be understood that the invention disclosed and defined herein extends to all alternative combinations of two or more of the individual features mentioned or evident from the text and/or drawings. All of these different combinations constitute various alternative aspects of the present invention. The embodiments described herein explain the best modes known for practicing the invention and will enable others skilled in the art to utilize the invention. The claims are to be construed to include alternative embodiments to the extent permitted by the prior art.