Briggs & Riley deserves the honor of easing the pain of bad backs, helping marital relationships and allowing people to travel more smoothly, making many of us question, “What did we do before the creation of wheeled luggage?” The month of October, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the company’s invention of wheeled luggage. Despite a now eternal expectation to have luggage on wheels, 40 years ago, buyers at major department stores dismissed the notion and threw the creator out of their offices.
The first wheeled bag was the brainchild of Briggs & Riley’s parent company U.S. Luggage and then-president Bernard Sadow. When returning from Aruba with his wife and their two heavy suitcases, he noticed a skid nearby, and made an inspired connection, turning to his wife and saying, “That’s what luggage needs: wheels.”
“I knew it was going to change the industry the second I thought of it. That skid has made traveling a little easier for millions and millions of people,” Sadow said.
The prototype that rolled out of the Massachusetts luggage factory in October 1970 had four wheels and a rope tow to pull it along. One by one, Sadow approached the buyers of Gimbels, Macy’s and other department stores, and one by one, he was shown the door. Finally, a visionary vice president at Macy’s saw the potential. He demanded that his buyer – the same buyer who had already called the idea crazy – place an order and be the first to sell wheeled luggage.
Customers made wheeled luggage an instant success and the orders rolled in. The original wheeled luggage was built with caster wheels made from plastic and metal. The bags have since evolved to two wheels that get lighter, quieter, stronger and more flexible with each breakthrough from Briggs & Riley engineers. U.S. Luggage filed for and won a patent on the now lucrative innovation in 1972, which was later defeated by other companies who now can put wheels on their luggage.
Today’s Briggs & Riley wheels are built with high-performance plastics and sealed bearings and are put through rigorous performance and quality tests that include rolling on a treadmill for several miles to test durability on lifelike surfaces. All Briggs & Riley luggage and business cases are backed by the company’s industry-leading “Simple as that®” warranty, which repairs any purchase, even if the damage was caused by an airline.
“Just because every piece of luggage has a wheel, doesn’t make it a Briggs & Riley wheel; you get what you pay for,” says Briggs & Riley and U.S. Luggage CEO Richard Krulik.
Krulik offers tips on what to look for in quality rolling luggage that won’t fall apart:
1. Worship the wheel: A $500 piece of luggage is worthless if it sits on inadequate wheels. You’re looking for sealed bearings and wheel encasement to protect wheels so they don’t stick or stop spinning altogether when sand, salt and other elements come in contact. All that comes standard on Briggs and Riley luggage.
2. Watch the warranty: You want to make sure that if a wheel breaks it can be replaced so you don’t have to throw out the whole bag. Briggs & Riley luggage wheels go through vigorous testing to determine durability. But even our luggage may eventually show wear and tear. That’s why we offer a lifetime warranty and will swap out your wheels for life.
3. Go wide: It’s pretty simple physics here. Wheels that are flatter and wider will be more stable than in-line “roller blade” skate wheels found in some other luggage brands, and will last longer and provide a smoother ride. Also, the wider apart the wheels are, the more stable your bag will be and less likely to topple over.
About Briggs & Riley Travelware
Briggs & Riley Travelware is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its consumers by fulfilling all of their travel needs. The company’s wide variety of innovative, high-quality luggage and business cases matches smart design and exclusive features, with maximum durability and superb value. Briggs & Riley backs all of its products with the best-in-the-industry Simple as that® lifetime performance guarantee, a guarantee that even covers damage caused by an airline. Briggs & Riley is available at specialty luggage retailers, outdoor retailers, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Briggs-Riley. U.S. Luggage is the parent company of both Briggs & Riley and SOLO. SOLO is a lifestyle-focused brand of innovative laptop and business cases.