Do you remember the old television commercials that featured a sturdy Samsonite suitcase being pummeled in a zoo cage by a beefy, angry-looking gorilla? The bag stayed closed throughout the beating, and ended up looking brand-new.
Those advertisements may be the best testimonials ever to the sturdiness of plastics — even better than the "Plastics make it possible" series developed for the American Plastics Council. Viewers never thought, "I wonder if those plastic suitcases are rugged enough for my trip?" Samsonite was tough.
Now those Samsonite bags may become museum pieces. The company announced Feb. 22 that it is shutting down its Denver injection molding and thermoforming operations, victims of consumer preference for cheaper, lightweight fabric luggage. Some of the work is being shifted to Mexico.
Samsonite Corp. has been bleeding red ink for nearly three years as it has struggled to change its product line. No doubt this shutdown was necessary for the survival of the 91-year-old company.
Meantime, the hard-side bags will be their own best tribute. We'll see them for years to come at neighborhood garage sales, during new-student orientation week on campus and on every airline's luggage carousel.
Unfortunately for about 340 U.S. Samsonite workers, those heavy bags never seem to wear out.