I'm surprised purse hooks or purse hangers aren't more commonplace in North America. They're popular in Asia -- my friend Denise's Chinese mum, Rosalind Lee, has a beautiful cloisonnÃ© purse hook she thinks might have been her mother's. ("It's officially from the olden days," jokes Denise.)
My first purse-hook sighting (and resulting geek-out) was about six years ago when I was at Canadian Living. For some reason it didn't make it into the mag right away, and sadly, I can't remember the name of the local boutique who sent the information (it torments me, the not remembering). Then I fell for a crystal-embellished mirrored version from Rolo, a quirky boutique in Yorkville. I have a few hooks now, stashed in the bags I use most often so I can access them when I need them.
Talk about conversation starters. "What is that?" folks (men, too!) ask when they see it. Or "that's such a great idea," they exclaim. People ask how it works (a rubber pad under the table-top bit stops it from slipping; the weight of the bag keeps it in place), and how much weight it will take (I let them hold my purse for a minute; they look impressed and surreptitiously eye my biceps.)
So why don't more people have purse hooks? Surely I don't have to talk up the benefits of keeping a nice bag off the usually icky ground or floor. And purse hooks make brilliant gifts. Availability? The My Tagalongs hook ($15 CAN) is available in the handbag section at The Bay, and I'm sure you can find others from a variety of internet sources, too -- once you get the hang of it.