Feature Articles: Features

It’s encouraging to see companies manufacturing their products in the U.S.A. Today, consumers are more conscious and making a real effort to buy from manufacturers that produce their products in America. Buying North American products is a great way to support the companies that are providing jobs and opportunity to homeland workers. Sweet Spud, Bambino Burper, Mood Lights and Winsome Fragrance Co. are some U.S.A.-based companies that are producing innovative products and supporting the American economy.

They may be seduced by television and video games, but every kid loves a good craft project. With products by Easy Student Publishing, any budding bard can publish simply by uploading their original writing and illustrations. Parents can arm their iPads with a protective case that interacts with the ArtSee Studio app to transform kids’ masterpieces into animated games and activities. Turn the results into museum-quality showpieces with My Art Gallery — funky yet functional frames. With Press-N-Paint, kids can mix paints without spilling a drop. Make summer fun and stock your shelves with these creative solutions.

I am looking forward to attending the ABC Spring Educational Conference at South Point, Las Vegas on May 7-9. After attending so many trade events over the last 30+ years, I enjoy learning more about the children’s business, and especially seeing new things that may take me by surprise. The ABC SEC is one event that allows buyers, manufacturers, reps and media to get to know more about each other. The element of surprise is always part of new experiences. That’s why I asked several exhibitors these questions: “What would someone be surprised to know about you?” and “What will buyers be surprised to see in your 2013 line?”

Michael Scott Studio
Bibi & Mimi

As parents can attest to, kids change constantly. The bookworm becomes a glamour-puss, while the boy who was glued to his electronic device suddenly opts for active sports. Retailers need to offer a range of items that capture the mercurial nature of youngsters and be prepared with items that can change, increasing the play factor. Dolls that morph from one personality to another; games that get kids up and around; action figures with variety built into them; and makeup that helps girls experiment safely are a few currently hot items. Get in on the action with selections from Playhut, ParkZarz, BackSlapz and Luna Star.

Display your customer savviness with products that add personality to children’s rooms. Anyone can carry lamps and lighting fixtures, but only Wall Sticker Lamp can make 3D lamps. Made of vinyl, the stickers come in fun styles featuring animals, places and flowers. As unique as a tattoo, Tatutina lets customers organize keepsakes and crafts with beautifully painted recipe boxes and whimsical, wooden crayon caddies. The sure cure for the summertime blues, Win Green playhouses let kids enter into their favorite fairy tale or sea adventure without having to leave the yard. Modern Moose takes a contemporary approach to the simple things in life with clocks and wall art featuring clever laser-cut characters.

Long before backpacks, students in early America often shared books so the need of a way to tote them was not part of the picture. Fast forward to today when, despite the electronic revolution, most kids carry masses of books not to mention phones, game players and personal treasures to and from school each day. Hence the popularity of the student backpack. At first, backpacks were simply functional, but now style is critical. Kids like packs that make them stand out, are easy to get into and can take the wear and tear they are subject to on the bus, in lockers or just sitting on the floor. Some of our favorites are from Uanyi, Herschel Supply, MadPax and Apple Park.

Little Things Mean A Lot
Cachcach

The age-old question every parent hears is, “What’s for dinner?” It seems as soon as baby starts on solids, things get much more complicated and parents find themselves questioning if baby is getting the right mix of fruits, vegetables, grains, essential nutrients and more. This is an area where guidance and great options are such a lifesaver. All these companies were founded by moms interested in nutrition, value and convenience: Sage Spoonfuls, Wean Green, BooginHead and Happy Family help families make mealtimes easier and nutritious.

Everyone is in on the emerging mustache trend — even kids and women! The hippest and happiest youngsters will love the Wry Baby Snapsuit featuring a joke about the mustache’s return to fashion. Your brightest customers will take a shine to the clever disguise SunStaches sunglasses, including vampire and geek sub-trends. Given how fast trends can change, temporary might be the answer. StacheTATS will deliver on the craze without having to go crazy with a razor. Neon Eaters also joins the party with their stache-festooned socks for youngsters.

Keeping up with the tween set may be a challenge for parents, but you can help by stocking interchangeable fashionable items in your store. Doll clothing changes are a blast and super fashionable with SnapDolls totes and shirts. These dolls tell inspirational stories while donning aspirational frocks. Pack up the boring backpacks with Squid Packs, that feature silicone straps that can be removed and changed so kids can easily identify their belongings. Fashion is easy peasy with CAPeezy magnetic rings with interchangeable design collections. Tween moods change frequently, and so can their bling with MOGO interchangeable charms that stick to bracelets, purses and even sunglasses.

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