Between the North and South halls, New Product World and Inventors Spotlight, attendees at the 2012 National Hardware Show were once again presented with the fruits of innovation derived from hours of toil in garage workshops and corporate labs. It’s always hard to pick just a few favorites; the only way to see them all is to wander the aisles, shake your head, and say, “Why didn’t somebody think of that before?”
Chic on the cheap
Coach House Accents (Coachhouseaccents.com) looks like high-end garage doors — multi-paned windows, decorative handles and hinges — but really it’s just a façade that you put on your exiting garage door. It’s a great add-on sales opportunity for window and door installers.
All my girlfriends will want one
A great impulse purchase, Jeweler in the Dishwasher (Jewelerinthedishwasher.com) makes a plastic basket with special compartments that cleans rings, bracelets and necklaces in a regular dishwasher. It provides clear instructions on which precious stones are suitable and which aren’t.
Best toilet enhancement
There were an astonishing number of contenders this year. It’s hard to pass over the obvious appeal of the Miracle Seat, which uses slits and a fan to ventilate odors and remove germs (Miracleseat.com). But having replaced any number of broken fill valves, leaking flappers and other malfunctioning toilet parts over the years, my vote goes to the Toilet Guardian (Aquaone.com), which pinpoints problems and then shuts off the water to prevent overflows or running toilets.
Looks like it will work
Say goodbye to the caulking gun and the messy wet index finger with this “peel and stick” trim that can be used in bathrooms and kitchens. Corner Flex (Cornerflex.com) can also bend around corners.
The paint sundries category is, hands down, my top pick for innovation year after year. Cleaning and reusing paint rollers is one of the biggest challenges, and the NHS 2012 offerings brought out many great inventions: the Roller Keeper by Obvious Solutions (Rollerkeeper.com), an airtight container that removes and stores wet paint rollers, was one of my favorites.
Dog’s worst friend
StayDri Pet Wash Shower System looks like a large incubator made of PVC pipes and clear plastic sheeting. There are portals to insert your arms. It’s portable and collapsible, an important feature for dogs who tend to bolt at bath time. (Creative Technology Industries / Ctecglobal.com)
The best Christmas tree stand ever
Every year, without fail, inventors come to the show with a better contraption to hold up your Christmas tree. I counted three this year, but the Omega Tree Stand (Omegatreestand.com) had two big pluses: It uses clamps instead of screws and disassembles for storage. The company advertises it as “the marriage saver.”
Organize my life, please!
This is an explosive category that has moved way beyond plastic bins. Computer, TV and stereo cords are obviously driving people crazy, judging from the sheer number of new organizing tools. I liked the line of products from Toolio (Toolio.com) and the flexible cord channel from UT Wire (UT-Wire.com).
A better mousetrap
This is another perennial showing in the New Products World. I’m passing over the device that drowns mice in oil. No special pick this year.
Best heavy metal product
Officially licensed KISS garden gnomes for your rock garden. I never much liked the band, but I love the gnomes. (www.Grillacovers.com)
Must have in every kitchen
I’ve seen electronic fly swatters for sale on the Internet, and friends have brought them back from Asia, but why don’t I see them in retail outlets? I came across two vendors, but my favorite was DynaZap (Dynatrap.com). It has a flexible head and can extend out to 3 ft.
Best source of illumination
Lots to choose from here, with all the offerings in solar and LED lighting. I really liked the Coast LED flashlight because of its telescoping ability. You can control the size of the beam by pulling or pushing on the flashlight’s handle.