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Las Vegas Market Boosts Line-up of Juvenile Furnishings

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A rapidly evolving category in home furnishings is the area of juvenile furniture and accessories. Recognizing added interest in youth-related merchandise, Las Vegas Market has expanded its juvenile furnishings offerings. Buyers at the July Las Vegas Market, running July 24-28, will have the opportunity to check out a multitude of juvenile furnishings at two venues: Vegas Kids – a 20,000 square foot showcase on the ninth floor of World Market Center’s Building A, as well as an expanded juvenile section at the Las Vegas Convention Center, which opens on July 25. Vegas Kids presents a comprehensive destination for buyers shopping juvenile products. Vegas Kids tenants include: Berg Furniture, Creative Images, Khoury Inc., Levels of Discovery, Comfort Research, Mary Mayo Designs, Vermont Precision Woodworks, KidKraft LP, Camelot Furniture, California Kids, My Room, and One World. Catherine Willey of the Barrington, N.J.-based Berg Furniture says, “The cooperative atmosphere between the manufacturers is well-received and it is extremely helpful for our buyers to see products cross-merchandised as they might present them to consumers in their retail locations.” Dana Pretner, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, said grouping many of the juvenile furnishings together makes buying more convenient. “Vegas Kids offers buyers an excellent opportunity to take a broad look at what's new in the category,” she said. Pretner added, “Vegas Kids is also right for the times, because key manufacturers are taking large steps to increase their offerings in the juvenile category.” Industry leader Broyhill, for example, is planning a major introduction at Las Vegas Market called Broyhill Kids Ready, Set, Grow, including both unisex, girls' and boys' collections. Mike McCollum, Senior Vice President of Merchandising, Bedroom and Dining Room for the Lenoir, N.C.-based Broyhill, said the company’s new kids program is designed to be both dealer- and consumer-friendly. “We are offering pieces that move across different style and finish categories,” McCollum said. “A few years ago, we were building youth offerings by working off master suites, now we build directly to that custom youth market, so the product is no longer an offshoot of master suites. We are now offering better price-pointed goods and styled-up finishes. We are making it easier for customers and consumers to buy, offering a broader variety of styles and values.” -more- And more retailers are now considering expanding into the juvenile category. For example, Jill Anderson, a mother and owner of Texas-based Anderson’s Creative Expressions, said she has previously only touched upon the juvenile furniture category for her four stores. But she is bringing her whole crew of buyers and designers to Las Vegas in July with one of the main goals of identifying new products to offer. Anderson says, “Having products grouped together in categories makes it much more convenient for us.” Little Ones Make Big Impact Julie Smith, Editor of Furniture Style, says “Some of the reporting we have done reflects that parents accept that kids are not just influencing the furniture purchases but the accessory purchases as well.” America’s children are having a huge influence on their parent’s purchasing decisions about everything from minivans to sofas. In fact, our nation’s youngsters are often determining on their own what their parents are buying. No longer do parents assume that they know best. Instead they may take their children to the car lot to make sure junior is happy with his leg room and that the cup holders are where he wants them. Children and teens influence $600 billion a year of their parents' money and spend $20 billion a year of their own, says Georganne Bender, a retailing analyst in Algonquin, Ill. Most parents of the 24 million children between the ages of six and 11 in the United States will bring their child into a furniture store to obtain their input. While older children often feel “too cool” to be seen shopping in a furniture store with their parents, they will still get their say by surfing the net to find what they are looking for. A child’s influence is particularly strong when it comes time to buy furniture for his or her own bedroom. For example, when marketing furniture to children, remember that nearly two-thirds of them have a television in their bedroom. With her eye on this market, Delia Glass, President of the San Carlos, Calif.-based California Kids, says her company is launching new “sophisticated and hip” collections geared to the teen-plus age group, when juvenile is no longer juvenile, but moving toward young adult. “It’s almost impossible to get a teen into a retail store,” Glass says. “They will shop online but they will rarely go into a furniture store with Mother. As a result of this we are seeing more online purchases than ever before.” In the end, parents often set budgets and allow the children a large degree of freedom when choosing their beds, dressers and other pieces of furniture. Still, with all this talk of meeting the desires of children, it is important to consider the parameters parents put on the buying decision. Fortunately, a tight budget is often not an issue. Many Americans have delayed having children, so they have progressed in their careers and have the disposable income to splurge on their children’s furnishings. And Chris Light, Vice President, Sales for the Dallas-based KidKraft, stresses that messaging to Mom can still be effective. “Products that draw on a parent's interest in child development as well as heath and safety are more likely to be successful.” Many retailers and manufacturers also note that parents are often drawn to space-saving options. With these general consumer trends in mind, Smith says specific juvenile furniture trends to watch for include alternate sleep options, like double bunks, bunks over futons and trundle beds, plus functional study and storage areas. Retailers should keep in mind that kids themselves have opinions about motifs and patterns. Joy Phillips, Owner of the St. Augustine, Fla.-based Creative Images, says, “Adult product manufacturers come from a different perspective when they decide to offer youth furnishings, however, the ‘Vegas Kids’ manufacturers all start from the viewpoint of making products specifically for children.” She adds, “This can mean color and design trends that are more on target because of the specialty focus. Children are not short adults.” These trends have led to juvenile furniture and accessories being both a fast-growing area as well as a rapidly evolving category in home furnishings. That’s one reason Smith says, “If a retailer is serious about being in the youth category, they have to offer something more – an experience.” Providing an experience has become even more important as youth furniture retailers are facing some daunting competition from some of the big box retailers who dabble in the youth category. Phillips, with Creative Images, says “Vegas Kids will give buyers a focal point when shopping for youth furnishings.” That’s particularly important for Phillips, who is introducing more than 100 products in Las Vegas. “It will save buyers loads of time searching for manufacturers that specialize in youth,” she says. To register and book hotels rooms for Las Vegas Market, visit www.LasVegasMarket.com or call 888-WMC-SHOW (962-7469). Las Vegas Market takes place July 24-28 at World Market Center and Pavilions; the Temporaries will be located at the Las Vegas Convention Center and open on July 25. In all, the July 2006 Market will be the largest Las Vegas Market yet with nearly 2.6 million square feet of permanent and temporary exhibits.

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