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December 15, 2006

Sky-Rail - Totally Cool Storage

Thinking Inside the Box

Hot products from the hardware show

I arrived at the Canadian National Hardware Show with that breathless feeling you get when you’re surrounded by 4000 square feet of zesty hardware goodness. 

The booths were packed with innovative new stuff like the Wovel, a snow shovel that’s permanently mounted on a large wheel so you can move huge loads of snow without activating a single muscle fibre in your lower back. Unusual design, brilliant results.  If you want to be the talk of your neighbourhood this winter, the Wovel would do the trick.  (http://www.wovel.com/)

Wovel_big2 Still tingly from the Wovel demonstration, I trawled the aisles looking for other scathingly original products. 

I spotted a bespectacled man standing beside a sky-high wall of see-through plastic storage containers.  He looked at me calmly.  Then, as I watched, he put his hand on one of the containers and slowly removed it, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the array. I moved closer.  Then he removed another container.  But the huge pile of storage units didn’t collapse into the empty spaces.  What miracle was this? 


Canadian Genius

The bespectacled man then told me the story behind the self-stacking storage system called Sky-Rail.  A few years ago Canadian inventor Paul LaMarche noticed his friends’ kids trying to display Beanie Babies which, because of their legume-filled interiors, have poor posture and tend to slump into a furry pile of chaos.   

So Paul went into his workshop and designed a lightweight interlocking plastic container that acted like a cryogenic sleep pod for Beanie Babies. 

Paul’s transparent plastic units fitted together in a self-supporting array, so individual compartments could be completely removed without disturbing the rest of the system.  Collectors of everything from Beanie Babies to model cars were thrilled to have a way to store and protect their treasures, and for the past 10 years Paul’s company has been offering the award-winning Sky-Rail storage system on the Internet (www.sky-rail.com) and on TV. 

“We’ve sold over 7,000,000 of ‘em,” says Paul happily, “And nearly 70% of our business is from repeat customers, so we know they’re satisfied.”

When Paul’s daughter Elaine started using Sky-Rail containers to store her shoe collection, Paul got the idea of designing larger boxes for sweaters, boots and tools, and mini-boxes for cosmetics, jewelry and fasteners.  Oh baby. 

“The various sizes work together so you can organize anything from shoes to sewing materials, and you can leave gaps in the system for access to wall outlets, windows, vents or switches,” says Elaine, who helps her Dad run the business.

Sky-Rail’s design transfers weight to the outside edges of the array so you can store even moderately heavy articles in the individual compartments without squashing the bottom layer. The infinitely expandable modular system keeps items protected, dust-free, readily available, and dead organized.   

Dscn4116 And you won’t need to watch QVC or Home Shopping Network to see what I’m talking about.  After the Hardware Show, two retailers (Canadian Tire and Home Hardware) had the good sense to pick up the Sky-Rail system and it’ll be in stores starting in January.

Let’s just call 2007 the Year of Having No More Excuses for Being Dis-organized. 



Holy crap. Sky-Rail sounds amazing. The Wovel looks pretty cool, too.

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