Steve Jobs developed the Apple computer in his garage. The Wright brothers built the first successful airplane in their bicycle repair shop. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in his college dorm room. Many others have invented useful items in their basements. Seventeen-year-old Braden Krueger produces his Germ Buffers on his mother’s sewing machine in his parents’ dining room.
The Germ Buffer is a very simple product designed to wrap around the handle of a grocery cart to protect your hands from germs. Braden came up with the idea in May when he saw that a lot of grocery stores were running out of disinfectant wipes. He thought of an alternative solution that more economical and eco-friendly.
“I was always conscious of germs. Even at lunch at school I’d bring my hand sanitizer and people would ask me, ‘Why are you doing that?’ Shopping carts are really bad sources of germs,” Braden remarks.
It took him only about two weeks to perfect his product and only $100 investment in materials to get the first few Germ Buffers made. The first stage of manufacturing is cutting the material. Then he sews it into a tube shape. Afterward, he puts the foam cushion inside and attaches the cloth carrying strap. Braden does all the work himself.
“I found it pretty easy to develop the idea. Then I kept thinking about how to improve it. The biggest challenge was learning how to sew. My mom taught me.”
Braden’s mother also helped him set up his website: https://germbuffer.com, which is complete with pictures, FAQ’s and secure checkout for people to place orders. He also promotes his Germ Buffers through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. After Bay News 9 did an interview with him, Braden saw sales take off, with orders coming not only from the Tampa Bay region but also from the Orlando area and even from out-of-state.
Braden makes the Germ Buffers from a variety of materials – cotton, polyester, and linen- which he purchases retail at local fabric shops. There are several designs. The most popular one and his favorite, as well, is the material that looks like a shopping list. The handles are made from ribbons that coordinate with the colors and patterns of the fabric. He orders the foam that goes inside the tube from a local supplier and cuts it to size.
The Germ Buffers are machine washable. All you have to do is remove the foam and wash the cover in warm water and dry it on a low tumble dry setting. Braden sells extra sleeves so that if one is dirty you can put the foam in the spare sleeve and still do your shopping. The Germ Buffers sell for $12.99 plus shipping and the extra sleeves sell for $5.99 plus shipping.
Besides the monetary gain, Braden has received a lot of personal satisfaction from inventing his product.
“I’m always thinking of ideas for things that can help people, but this is the first idea I’ve come up with that I felt people would want to buy. I feel it’s something that can help flatten the curve and, even beyond, it’s something that can give people peace of mind while they’re shopping. If people don’t have to worry about getting sick from germs I feel that I’m helping them.”
A 2020 graduate of Springstead High School, Braden will be going to the Villanova School of Business in Philadelphia this fall. He plans to study either management or marketing with the ultimate goal of owning his own business. Braden is way ahead of most people his age in achieving that goal.