Feature Articles: Features

The tween market can be a little hard to nail down: tweens are moving beyond the childlike toys and behaviors they are used to, but still not quite ready for the almost-grown-up style of older teens. Retailers need to be wary of coming off as too cutesy or way too sophisticated. Kids in this group tend to be very creative. Edgy, fun, yet practical accessories and designs all make for happy families. The best in tween products combine individualism with creativity, and the lines from Nail Candy, Shwings, and Tractor bring customers back for more.

Some parents take it for granted that they can go into a toy store and buy whatever their child wants. Parents of special needs children know it’s never that easy, and retailers who carry toys and clothing for their child’s specific needs can foster a valuable customer relationship to last a lifetime. A few examples of all-inclusive products include Pocket Frenz for children who need something small and tangible to get them through the day; Fun and Function toys, games and apparel; Soft Clothing’s seamless, tagless apparel for children who find regular clothes irritating; and WorryWoos for children who have trouble processing emotions.

It’s time to dive into swimwear for all-day splash-tastic fun! Both little girl and boy waterbugs go gung-ho for colorful duds that are easy to jump into and out of, while your shoppers appreciate styles that can hold up through next year’s long, wet summer. A swim suit should fit snugly, but not so tight that it binds and chafes; but neither should it be so loose that it slips down or shows off a saggy-baggy vibe. Swimwear manufacturers like 405 South by Anita G., Haiden Surf, SnapMe Swimwear, and PilyQ offer good-looking, long-wearing styles that put young pool and beach-goers front and center with on-trend appeal.

Dapper Snappers

ABC Kids Expo celebrates its 10th anniversary, October 14-17, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. According to President and Show Manager Larry Schur, “We are very encouraged to see such a positive response in registrations from all retail channels, especially from those located internationally.” The ABC Kids Expo is the opportunity to meet face-to-face with domestic and international buyers, media, and manufacturers at the premier juvenile products show in the world. Here is just a small sampling of products to see at the event: Curious George and Suzy’s Zoo by Fun Rugs, Gummi Teething Jewelry from KidKusion, strollers by guzzie+Guss, and Ubabub’s unique cribs.

Gift giving can be pure joy… or a perplexing problem. There are always people on a giver’s list that simply seem to have everything or defy any specific option. Customers seek gifts that go beyond the traditional to something that clearly expresses the gifter’s caring and thoughtfulness. Having an exemplary gift selection in your store saves customers time, stress, and money; the bonus is that they remember your shop and become regulars. Ideal gift solutions can be found from Elegant Baby, The Grandparent Gift Co., and Tumbleweed Wholesale.

In a time when outsourcing is common, it’s a valuable point of differentiation to find companies that produce quality merchandise in the U.S.A. For expertly crafted, handmade children’s clothing that’s made to order; darling hats, headbands and other accessories that are hand stitched with love; and diaper bags and totes that are stylish as well as functional, consider this trio of brands all under the Gracious May corporate banner: Gracious May, Snugars and Bushka.


There are a lot of great trends to sift through this season. We have culled some newbies to bring retailers a few of the market innovations that carry perfect designs for display throughout the fall and winter seasons. Focus holiday shoppers on earrings with a practical twist from Triple Sweet; continue the accessory trend with matching head and toe bumbums; show off a classical yet playful look with Olivia & Owen; and offer doll lovers of any age a modern Lille Huset dollhouse.

The diversity of businesses that offer juvenile products made in the U.S.A. is broad, but each has the same interests at heart. It’s for the kids. A few of the companies that have made the commitment are The Fig Orchard, Heather Hill Clothing, Funkie Baby and Nest Designs. Their products range from beautiful hair accessories and designer clothing to baby necessities and organic one-pieces. All are proud to proclaim, “Made in America.”

Girls remember their first one: the glamorous exterior with rich colors, the graceful winding staircase, the upper stories with fabulous sleeping rooms fit for princesses, and the model kitchen that set every cook’s heart aflutter. Yes, before you moved into your first place, your first “dream home” was your dollhouse. Dollhouses have evolved, and there are homes for every taste — from little girls to avid collectors to (yes!) boys. Rooms with a view include dollhouses from En Gry & Sif USA, Greenleaf, Teamson and brinca dada.