Trade your beer, get cool stuff
Australians who hawk messenger bags come up with a novel promotion -- and they're drinking it up all the way to the bank.
By Jessica Seid, staff writer

NEW YORK ( - Two Australians are turning their taste for beer into sweet success.

For one week only, the Australian marketer Crumpler is making an unusual offer. You give them Chimay, Brooklyn Lager and Guinness, and they give you their messenger bags, laptop cases and bean bag chairs.

Since Crumpler began accepting beer for merchandise on Saturday, the company's two New York stores have been flooded with customers, the owners say.

Curious shoppers have been popping in to check out the goods and then returning with beer, getting bags and telling their friends.

"I heard they were talking about Crumpler on the radio in Florida," said Lindsay Cousley, Director of Crumpler USA.

Founders Dave Roper and Will Miller, former owners of a bike-messenger business, named their bag company after one of their part-time employees, and now co-owner and designer, Stuart Crumpler.

Roper, Miller and Crumpler have a history of stepping outside the box since opening their first store in Melbourne in 1997, which is where the beer for bags event first started, giving their messenger bags quirky names like "Barney Rustle," "Complete Seed," and "Moderate Embarrassment."

During the Beer for Bags exchange in New York, customers can trade certain types of beer for bags: one case of Leffe and a bottle of Chimay will get you a $95 Complete Seed bag; a case of Coopers and two cans of Foster's yield a Barney Rustle bag, which normally sells for $85.

And a case of Sapporo and a bottle of soy sauce nets a Moderate Embarrassment bag, which retails for $80.

The beer costs about $40 to $50, so it's a good deal no matter how you pour it, Roper said.

What happens to all the beer? "We drink it," Roper said with a smile.

And the soy sauce?

"We're going to lather ourselves down with it and wrestle in the street," joked Cousley.

Cousley estimated the company will trade about 600 bags before the exchange ends Sunday and believes the publicity will help the company more than double bag sales this year.

Also helping: The outdoor merchandise retailers REI, EMS and Paragon Sports started selling Crumpler bags this year, and Crumpler began offering its wares on the company's Web site (

The bag business brought in approximately $900,000 in revenue in 2005 and is on course to deliver $2 million to $2.25 million in 2006, Cousley said.

The entrepreneurs don't plan on stopping there.

Crumpler plans to open stores in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and Denver in the future, which may mean more reasons to say 'cheers.'


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