Shredders and vacuums


I have a small paper shredder at home. Lately, it’s been running too long after each shred, and it gets clogged up quite often. Since it was only $30 and I got a solid two years of service from it, I should just replace it, right? Well, not so fast. I’ve been checking out shredders whenever I’m in an office supply store or website, but nobody sells anything as compact as the model I have. My unit originally came from Target, but the local store is quite a hike for me, and they don’t offer the same model online.

It’s interesting to compare the size of shredders to another mundane household item: the vacuum cleaner. Vacuums come in all shapes and sizes, and there are dozens of compact models that you can store in tight spaces. I’ve even seen vacuums that are styled and sized to be kept on the kitchen counter. Yet the world of shredders continues to be dominated by large and bulky models, regardless of the price range.

Perhaps there are logical market factors behind all of this. Maybe people tend to shop by capacity, e.g. they prefer a big unit that can shred 20 sheets at once instead of a smaller one that can only handle five. Or perhaps the manufacturers don’t have much experience with making things smaller, and all the components are optimized to be produced at a certain minimum size. Either way, I think there’s a market opportunity for someone to sell an elegant, compact, and reliable document shredder that breaks the boring mold of the big and bulky rectangles we have today.