Title:
Storage and display device, system, and method of use thereof
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device, system, and method for storage and display of articles, such as loose articles for use or sale, including a bin having a body, at least a portion of which is translucent or transparent, that allows for close-proximity arrangement, and easy rearrangement, of two or more bins while maintaining ease of retrieval of articles stored and displayed therein, and while allowing visual inspection of the contents of bins so arranged.



Inventors:
Rosenberg, David (Columbus, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/810211
Publication Date:
12/11/2008
Filing Date:
06/05/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/481, 220/669
International Classes:
A47F5/08; B65D1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BARNETT, DEVIN K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BakerHostetler (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is at least:

1. An article storage and display bin comprising: a first sidewall having a generally curved upper peripheral edge and a generally curved lower peripheral edge; a second sidewall having a generally curved upper peripheral edge and a generally curved lower peripheral edge; and a generally arcuate bottom connecting said first sidewall to said second sidewall.

2. The article storage and display bin of claim 1, further comprising attachment means for selectively attaching said article storage and display bin to a display surface of a display unit.

3. The article storage and display bin of claim 1, further comprising a sign structure connecting said first sidewall to said second sidewall.

4. The article storage and display bin of claim 1, wherein said generally arcuate bottom comprises a front edge, a back edge, and a medial depression therebetween.

5. The article storage and display bin of claim 1, wherein said curved lower peripheral portions generally follow a curvature of said generally arcuate bottom.

6. The article storage and display bin of claim 1, further comprising at least one relief portion.

7. The article storage and display bin of claim 6, wherein said at least one relief portion is defined by at least one of a curvature of said curved upper peripheral edges and a curvature of said curved lower peripheral edges.

8. The article storage and display bin of claim 1, wherein at least a portion of at least one of said first sidewall, said second sidewall, and said generally arcuate bottom is one of translucent and transparent.

9. The article storage and display bin of claim 1, wherein said generally arcuate bottom enables said storage and display bin to be tilted toward an adjacent storage and display bin without decreasing a distance therebetween.

10. An article storage and display system comprising: a display unit, and a plurality of storage and display bins, wherein said plurality of storage and display bins is adjustably and removably attachable to said display unit, and wherein said plurality of storage and display bins comprise at least one relief portion.

11. The article storage and display system of claim 10, wherein said display unit comprises a display surface, said display surface comprising a plurality of attachment structures thereon, and wherein said plurality of storage and display bins are removably attachable to a selected one of said attachment structures.

12. The article storage and display system of claim 11, wherein a position of said plurality of storage and display bins on said display surface is adjustable by moving said plurality of storage and display bins relative to said selected one of said attachment structures.

13. The article storage and display system of claim 10, wherein said at least one relief portion enables one of said plurality of storage and display bins to be tilted without decreasing a distance to an adjacent storage and display bin.

14. A method of storing and displaying at least one article comprising the steps of: providing a storage and display device comprising a generally arcuate bottom and a transparent portion proximate a medial depression of said generally arcuate bottom; and storing at least one article in said storage and display device, thereby displaying said at least one article through said transparent portion.

15. The method of claim 14, further comprising attaching said storage and display device to a display surface of a display unit.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of adjusting a position of said storage and display device relative to said display surface while said storage and display device is attached to said display surface.

17. The method of claim 15, further comprising the step of attaching a second storage and display device proximate at least one of a top and a bottom of said storage and display device.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein said step of attaching said second storage and display device comprises tilting said second storage and display device to engage an attachment means thereof with an attachment device of said display surface.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein at least one relief portion of at least one of said storage and display device and said second storage and display device allows said tilting step to be performed while said storage and display device is disposed adjacent said second storage and display device.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to storage devices, and more specifically, to a retail storage and display bin.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In numerous varied instances it is necessary, desirable, or beneficial to store and/or display certain items, or collections of items, separate from other items, or other collections of items, such as items having different characteristics: such as different price, color, size, material, use, flavor, or the like. To accomplish such separate storage, a variety of boxes, bins, dispensers, and displays have been adapted and employed. Such prior devices, however, suffer from many disadvantages.

One problem with prior storage and display devices is that they often allow items, particularly small items, to accumulate in remote areas of the storage device, where access to the items by a user, a vendor, or a customer is restricted. Additionally, such prior storage and display devices frequently include means for accessing the items that make removal of the items stored therein difficult, or that require the use of specialized scoops, rakes, or other tools, or specialized funnels or other dispensers to access and remove the items. Furthermore, such prior storage and display devices typically fail to provide adequate ability and/or opportunity to visually inspect the contents thereof and to simultaneously label or otherwise describe the contents or characteristics thereof.

These problems associated with conventional storage and display devices are compounded when a plurality of such devices are arranged in a system, especially in an article storage and display fixture. Specifically, conventional arrangements require large spacing between individual storage devices or containers in order to allow proper, unfettered use thereof and to allow access to the articles stored and displayed therein. Such large spacing is not only inefficient use of available storage and/or display space, such as floor or wall area, but is also inconvenient for a user thereof, especially for comparison and/or retrieval of items stored in different containers.

Thus, what is needed is a device for storage and/or display of articles, a system for arranging a plurality of such devices, a method of use thereof, and a method of storage and display of articles, especially numerous and varied articles, that is simple and inexpensive to make and use, that allows efficient and effective arrangement of a plurality of storage and display devices, that allows easy and convenient visual inspection of one or more item stored with the devices, and that allows convenient comparison and/or retrieval of items stored in different ones of the devices.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly described, in a preferred embodiment, the present invention overcomes the above-mentioned disadvantages and meets the recognized need for such a device, system, and methods by providing an article storage and display bin including a body, at least a portion of the body being transparent or translucent, the body including generally vertically-arranged and spaced opposing sidewalls and an arcuate bottom therebetween. The translucent or transparent portion(s) preferably allow visual inspection of articles contained in the bin. The arcuate bottom preferably prevents accumulation of articles in the back of the bin by forcing accumulation of the articles in a medial portion of the bin at a low-point of the arcuate bottom. The arcuate bottom preferably further facilitates removal of one or more of the articles by allowing the articles to be moved up the sloping surface thereof toward a mouth of the bin. The mouth preferably allows a user to reach, at least partially, into the bin to retrieve and remove articles contained therein, and preferably extends from a front edge of the arcuate bottom portion to a sign structure carried by at least one of the opposing sidewalls.

A system for storage and display of articles preferably includes a display unit and a plurality of modular storage bins. The storage bins are preferably removably attachable to a selected one of a plurality of attachment devices of the display unit via complementary attachment means disposed thereon. The bins are preferably configured to allow close-proximity arrangement beside, above, and below other such bins attached to the display unit, including generally vertically-arranged sidewalls and/or at least one relief formed proximate the connection means of the storage bin. The generally vertically-arranged sidewalls preferably reduce wasted space between adjacent storage bins arranged side-by-side, and the relief portions preferably reduce wasted space between adjacent storage bins arranged top-to-bottom by reducing the amount of clearance required for removal or attachment of a storage bin to the display unit above or below an adjacent storage bin.

According to its major aspects and broadly stated, the present invention, in its preferred form, is a storage bin including two generally vertically-arranged, spaced, opposing sidewalls connected to one another, at least at bottom portions, by an arcuate bottom.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, the sidewalls and bottom are formed of a transparent or translucent material to allow visual inspection of articles stored in the storage bin.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, a sign structure is carried by the sidewalls such that information relating to articles stored therein may be displayed thereon for facilitating selection, location, and or retrieval of desired articles stored within one or more bins.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, a back connects the sidewalls proximate a back edge of the arcuate bottom to facilitate containment of articles within the bin, especially when the bin is tilted toward the back thereof, such as during attachment or removal of the bin to a display unit.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, the back preferably carries attachment means for removably and adjustably attaching the bin to an attachment structure of the display unit to facilitate display of articles stored in the bin.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, arcuate bottom portion curves downward to a medial depression from both a front edge and a back edge thereof to prevent accumulation of articles stored in the bin in remote areas of the bin and to facilitate accumulation of such articles proximate the medial depression, whereby they may be accessed by a user.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, the bin preferably includes a mouth for allowing access to articles stored in the bin located proximate the front edge of the arcuate bottom and preferably extending therefrom between the sidewalls to the sign structure.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, the mouth preferably allows a user to reach into the bin and retrieve articles therefrom, and preferably further allows articles stored in the bin to be poured out of the bin by tilting the bin toward the front thereof.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, the display unit includes a plurality of attachment devices for receiving and adjustably retaining one or more storage bins, whereby articles stored in the bin(s) may preferably be displayed for use or sale.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, the display unit preferably includes a generally vertically arranged display surface having the attachment devices formed thereon.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, each attachment device preferably receives and adjustably retains a plurality of storage devices arranged in a row.

According to another aspect of the preferred embodiment, the attachment devices are preferably arranged to form a series of vertically arranged rows.

Accordingly, one feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to facilitate storage and display of articles such that the articles may conveniently be visually-inspected, selected, located, and/or retrieved for use or sale.

Another feature and advantage of the present invention is its ability to allow numerous different articles to be stored and displayed in respective storage bins arranged in close proximity on a display unit.

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art after reading the following Detailed Description and Claims in light of the accompanying drawing Figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Accordingly, the present invention will be understood best through consideration of, and with reference to, the following Figures, viewed in conjunction with the Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiment referring thereto, in which like reference numbers throughout the various Figures designate like structure and in which:

FIG. 1A is a front perspective view of a storage bin according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 1B is a front perspective view of a storage bin according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the storage bin of FIG. 1A from line 2-2;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the storage bin of FIG. 1A taken along line 3-3; and

FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of a display unit according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

It is to be noted that the drawings presented are intended solely for the purpose of illustration and that they are, therefore, neither desired nor intended to limit the invention to any or all of the exact details of construction shown, except insofar as they may be deemed essential to the claimed invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In describing preferred embodiments of the present invention illustrated in the Figures, specific terminology is employed for the sake of clarity. The invention, however, is not intended to be limited to the specific terminology so selected, and it is to be understood that each specific element includes all technical equivalents that operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose.

In that form of the preferred embodiment of the present invention chosen for purposes of illustration, FIGS. 1-3 show storage bin 100 comprising sidewalls 101, 102, bottom 103, back 105, sign structure 107, top 108, and mouth 111. Sidewalls 101, 102, bottom 103, back 105, sign structure 107, and top 108, preferably form body 100a and preferably each comprises a generally solid piece of material that is at least translucent, and more preferably is transparent. When storage bin 100 is formed of transparent material, articles A stored therein are preferably visible therethrough such that articles A may preferably be inspected by a user without removal of articles A from storage bin 100 even when a user cannot view articles A through mouth 111, such as when storage bin 100 is disposed above or to the side of the user.

Each of sidewalls 101, 102 is preferably generally planar and is preferably generally vertically arranged, and spaced from the other. Sidewalls 101, 102 preferably include curved upper peripheral portions 101b, 102b and curved lower peripheral portions 101e, 102e. Curved upper peripheral portions 101b, 102b preferably begin at front points 101a, 102a defining forward-most peripheral portions of sidewalls 101, 102, curve up from front points 101a, 102a, extending back to top points 101c, 102c, and curve down therefrom, extending back to intersection points 101d, 102d, where upper peripheral portions 101b, 102b approach back 105. Upper relief portions 113a, 123a are preferably defined by the sections of curved upper peripheral portions 101b, 102b extending from top points 101c, 102c to intersection points 101d, 102d. Upper relief portion 113a, 123a preferably allow storage bin 100 to be tilted, with front points 101a, 102a moving down, without interference from an object, such as a another storage bin, a peripheral edge of a display unit, or the like, disposed immediately above and adjacent to storage bin 100, such as proximate top points 101c, 102c.

Lower peripheral portions 101e, 102e of sidewalls 101, 102 preferably generally follow the contour of back 105 from intersection points 101d, 102d, extending down to intersection points 101f, 102f, where back 105 approaches bottom 103. From intersection points 101f, 102f, lower peripheral portions 101e, 102e preferably curve downward, extending forward to bottom points 101g, 102g, and then curving upward, extending from bottom points 101g, 102g forward to front points 101a, 102a. Lower relief portions 113b, 123b may additionally or alternatively be included, and preferably are defined by the section of lower peripheral portions 101e, 102e extending from intersection points 101f, 102f to bottom points 101g, 102g. Lower relief portions 113b, 123b preferably allow storage bin 100 to be tilted, with front points 101a, 102a moving up, without interference from an object, such as another storage bin, a peripheral edge of a display unit, or the like, disposed immediately below and adjacent to storage bin 100, such as proximate bottom points 101g, 102g.

Bottom 103 preferably connects sidewalls 101, 102 and preferably extends along lower peripheral portions 101e, 102e generally from sidewall 101 to sidewall 102. Bottom 103, thus, preferably defines medial depression 103b, preferably generally midway between back 105 and front edge 103a proximate front points 101a, 102a. Medial depression 103b preferably functions to funnel articles A contained in storage bin 100 away from back 105 and mouth 111 proximate front edge 103a, and towards bottom points 101g, 102g. Such funneling preferably prevents accumulation of articles A proximate back 105, or in other similar remote areas, where access to, and retrieval of, articles A would be hindered. Bottom 103 preferably further functions as a ramp or slide, whereby articles A contained within storage bin 100 may easily be removed therefrom by sliding articles A toward front edge 103a where they may be removed through mouth 111.

Back 105 preferably further connects sidewalls 101, 102 and preferably extends along lower peripheral portions 101e, 102e generally from sidewall 101 to sidewall 102. In a preferred embodiment, back 105 is preferably integrally formed with bottom 103, such as by integral molding, or by forming from a unitary member. Additionally, a curvature of bottom 103 may optionally be continued through back 105, such that a seamless transition exists therebetween. Alternatively, back 105 may have no curvature, or a curvature different that a curvature of bottom 103, and back 105 may be generally angularly disposed with respect to an adjacent portion of bottom 103.

Top 108 preferably further connects sidewalls 101, 102 and preferably extends from intersection points 101d, 102d and preferably follows along upper peripheral portions 101b, 102b. Top 108 preferably reinforces sidewalls 101, 102, thereby increasing a structural strength of storage bin 100 by reducing relative movement therebetween. Top 108 is preferably integrally formed with back 105 and with bottom 103, and further may be integrally formed with one or more of sidewalls 101, 102. Alternatively, top 108 may be omitted.

Sign structure 107 preferably further connects sidewalls 101, 102 and preferably extends generally vertically from a location proximate upper peripheral portion 101b down toward, but not reaching bottom 103. Sign structure 107 preferably further reinforces sidewalls 101, 102, thereby further increasing the structural strength of storage bin 100 by reducing relative movement therebetween. Sign structure 107 is preferably formed as a generally planar member adapted to receive and support tag T, or other similar sign, label, sticker, card, or the like bearing an indication pertaining to articles A contained within storage bin 100. Sign structure 107 preferably facilitates removal and replacement of such a sign, a sticker, a tag, a card, or the like. To accomplish such removal and replacement, removable attachment means, such as a hook and loop fastener, releasable adhesive, a pocket, or the like, may be employed. According to one embodiment, tag T, or other similar sign, label, sticker, card, or the like is removably retained within a pocket formed by a generally u-shaped or j-shaped sign structure 107b.

Body 100a is preferably formed of plastic or other suitable material that is durable, scratch-resistant, easy to clean, inexpensive, and/or easy to manufacture. Body 100a may preferably be formed by a molding process, by assembling and joining adjacent component pieces, such as using an adhesive, welding, or the like, or by a combination thereof. Once assembled, body 100a preferably has sufficient structural strength to reduce damage and increase durability, and to support the weight of articles A stored therein, in addition to its own weight, especially when attached via back 105 to a vertical display surface of a display unit.

To accomplish such attachment, back 105 preferably includes attachment means 115, preferably in the form of an angled arm or hook adapted to engage a slot. Attachment means 115 may alternatively take the form of a peg adapted to engage a hole, a clip, or other suitable mechanical fastener. Preferably, attachment means 115 allows a position of storage bin 100 to be adjusted, such as by sliding along a slot. Thus, the position storage bin 100 may preferably be adjusted while storage bin 100 remains attached to a display unit, such as to reduce an amount of space between storage bin 100 and an adjacent object, such as another storage bin, an edge of the display unit, a wall, or the like.

In use, articles A may preferably be placed in storage bin 100, such as through mouth 111, for storage and display therein. Bottom 103 preferably funnels articles A to medial depression 103b, whereby articles A are preferably visible through mouth 111 or through transparent portions of sidewalls 101, 102 and/or bottom 103. Tag T, or other similar sign, label, sticker, card, or the like, is preferably affixed to sign structure 107, such as by adhesive, mechanical fastener, by insertion into a pocket of u-shaped or j-shaped sign structure 107b, or the like. Tag T preferably bears indicia thereon pertaining to or indicating one or more characteristic of articles A contained in storage bin 100, such as a price, a material, a dimension, an origin, or the like. Thus, tag T preferably supplements information pertaining to articles A conveyed by the appearance thereof, whereby a user may visually inspect articles A and/or tag T to determine whether select one or more of articles A for use, purchase, or the like. Upon selection of one or more of articles A, a user may preferably access articles A by reaching into storage bin 100 and sliding one or more of articles A along bottom 103 toward mouth 111, whereby articles A may be easily removed from storage bin 100 through mouth 111.

Now referring to FIG. 4, article storage and display system 400 preferably comprises display surface 410 and a plurality of storage and display bins 450, such as storage bins 100. Storage and display system 400 may be mounted to a wall, and supported thereby, or may be mounted to, or integrally formed with a free-standing support base. Display surface 410 is preferably prominently arranged within storage and display system 400 such that a user, such as a shopper, may view, select, and/or retrieve articles from one or more storage and display bins 450 attached thereto. Display surface 410 preferably includes one or more attachment device 411, such as horizontal slot S adapted to receive attachment means 455, such as hook H. Slots S are preferably vertically spaced from one another such that storage and display bins 450 attached to respective slots S are preferably disposed in close proximity, thereby reducing an amount of wasted space therebetween. Preferably, there is no more space between adjacent storage and display bins 450 than is necessary to allow attachment and removal of hook H to and from slot S. Thus, sidewalls of adjacent storage and display bins 450 within the same slot S may be disposed in abutting relationship, with little or no space therebetween, such as by sliding one or more storage and display bins 450 along slot S. Additionally, top point 450a and bottom point 450b of respective adjacent storage and display bins disposed in adjacent slots are preferably disposed in close proximity with only enough space therebetween to allow one or both such storage and display bins to be attached or removed, such as by lifting and/or tilting, facilitated by downwardly-curved rear portions 113a, 123a, and upwardly-curved rear portions 113b, 123b.

It will be understood by those skilled in the art that numerous modifications, alterations, and or additions may be made to the display bin and/or the display unit described above without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, attachment means 115, 455 may take alternate forms, such as magnetic attachment devices or mechanical fasteners, such as hook-and-loop fasteners, clips, or the like. Likewise, attachment device 411 may be selected to releasably and/or adjustably engage and retain storage bin 100 and/or storage and display bin 450 according to a selected attachment means 115, 455. Furthermore, variations in the shape and/or relative orientation and arrangement of sidewalls 101, 102, bottom 103, back 105, and/or sign structure 107 may be altered so long as close-proximity arrangement of adjacent storage bins, visual inspection of, and convenient access to, articles A, and/or prominent display of information pertaining to articles A is enabled.

Having, thus, described exemplary embodiments of the present invention, it should be noted by those skilled in the art that the within disclosures are exemplary only and that various other alternatives, adaptations, and modifications may be made within the scope and spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to the specific embodiments as illustrated herein, but is only limited by the following claims.