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Stitched in Albany Park, WIG Bags Provide Customized Toting Needs

By Tanveer Ali | November 21, 2014 5:22am

ALBANY PARK — The idea for Isaac Grigsby's WIG Bags business came in 2002, when he stitched together a bag to carry wood from his job as a furniture maker on five-mile bicycle journeys back to his home.

"'Dude, that is the best thing I've ever seen. I could earn so much money with that thing,'" Grigsby said of showing the bag to his friends, many who made a living as bicycle messengers who needed bags to carry items. "It was just a duffel bag with a nice strap. It went on from there."

Twelve years later, Grigsby is now producing 600 customized bags out of his Albany Park three-flat for cyclists, photographers and everyone in between, often custom made for their needs and bodies.

What separates WIG Bags — "Wheels in gyration, I'm always thinking," Grigsby says — from other bags is the quality of the material and the time Grigsby puts into each bag, often as much as 36 hours.

"My basic bag is so much better than what you buy in the store," Grigsby said. "For anything you are going to build with a human shape attached to it, you need to understand that human shape. I understand ergonomics."

The cost of a standard bag costs $260 but the price increases as Grigsby takes customization into account. During the holidays, he plans to make 12 to 15 premade small messenger bags for $150. 

Cyclists form a big chunk of his business, but people who find him through his website have all sorts of item-toting needs — from food delivery to picture taking.

"A lot of people don't want the world to know they have a camera," Grigsby said. "I try to create some thing that says, 'I'm just a nerd on a train. I don't have $12,000 worth of camera equipment in here.'"

An experienced tailor, Grigsby also notes that each bag can be stitched according to individual's body types.

"I don't give people that much control over how things are going to be outside of aesthetics and color," Grigsby said. "But I do give them control over how the bags are going to fit."

He encourages people in Chicago — a city that's the source of only a small bit of his business — to come in for measurements.

"If you are in Chicago, I always want you to see me," he added, noting his experience as a tailor.

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