Mama, Mama, I went to town, inside, outside, upside down (Chloe Coronado Winn)

Guppies Group Inc. visited Hancock fabrics, the Dollar Store, Leslie’s Pool Supplies, Play it Again, and Target.  The goal of this trip was to find inspiration and possible materials for our floatie redesign.  At Hancock fabrics we found some thick vinyl that could be a cheaper solution to buying traditional plastic for use in water.  We thought that since the vinyl is clear it could be used to cover a normal fabric to make the floaties colorful and waterproof without needing to buy

This is an original picture of the label on the vinyl at Hancock fabrics.
This is an original picture of the label on the vinyl at Hancock fabrics.

colored plastic which could potentially be expensive and hard to find.  We didn’t find anything at the Dollar Store because instead of being summer season it was Halloween and Christmas time in the store.  If the store had had summer merchandise we could have used beach balls or something to make the floaties because it would be more cost effective.  At Leslie’s Pool Supplies we found a bunch of different kinds of floaties.  This gave us good ideas, but it also made our job of coming up with something completely new seem a lot harder.  It seems like every different type of floatation device for every level of swimmer has already been made. 

I did notice a couple of things about floaties in general though.  First of all, they are all very brightly colored.  I wonder if making them less colorful so that they blend in more would help older children not be as embarrassed to wear them.  Second, all floaties are bulky, so that gives us an opportunity to change something.  Third, floaties from the same company are designed differently for different levels of swimmers.  Maybe that is something my group needs to think about, having some way to adjust floaties to accommodate higher levels of comfort in the water.  We didn’t have much luck at Play it Again because they had a very small selection of water gear (including child floatation devices).  All of the aquatic supplies were up very high so we couldn’t get a good look at them.  However, the equipment at Play it Again is used, so

An original photograph of the back of the packaging of the floaties at Leslie's Pool Supplies.
An original photograph of the back of the packaging of the floaties at Leslie’s Pool Supplies.

it’s probably cheaper than other aquatic gear; we could always buy the products for their material and deconstruct them to use the materials to construct our design.  This alternative would save us money and so we could make a higher profit from the floaties or sell them for less so that they are accessible to more people.  At Target we found some floaties and on the back of the packaging there were sizes and measurement ranges for the children who wear each size.  This will help us because we have been looking for those very same size ranges.  Overall the trip was pretty helpful.  It was good to go out and actually see the floaties that people are currently buying and using.

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