If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve already seen this quote, “The customer doesn’t care.” I wish I could take credit for having uttered this phrase but alas it was actually Gary Wassner of the factoring firm Hilldun who made this proclamation at an event I attended recently. Out of all the insightful things he said, this was the one that really jumped out at me because it’s true: The customer really doesn’t care.
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?”
Earth Day isn’t all about singing and turning off lights; it’s also about buying earth-friendly products all year long. Help the world and clean your shelves with these natural items. Want to offer diaper bags as hot as handbags? Evie Bett bags are cool in croc while being vegan-friendly. With the green start® line by innovativeKids, parents can make good decisions without sacrificing fun. Say an earthy “heyyy” to Hello Kitty muslin swaddles, towels, blankets and bibs through a joint effort of aden + anais and Sanrio. Never has “batteries not included” been as welcome as it is with Pure Play toys. Kids can make their own fun while parents can bask in noise-free sun.
Organization seems to top the list of things most people feel they could use improvement on. This quest leads to a search for products that will make their lives easier, more efficient and save time. When kids are involved, it adds an even greater urgency in finding methods and products to simplify storage and cleanup, especially of toys. Neat-Oh! ZipBins were born out of necessity, the brain child of a mom and her 10-year-old son Max. The ZipBin is a unique container that holds building blocks or other small play toys and unzips to form a play mat or other play surface.
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.
Bitybean bills itself as the Cleverly Compact Child Carrier and satisfied customers attest to its practicality and ease of use. This carrier is smaller and lighter than any soft-sided carrier currently on the market. It can be tidily tucked away in a pocket or bag! It is designed to tote infants and toddlers from eight to forty pounds. Your customers will be delighted to find a classy carrier that weighs in at a mere eight ounces and is as teensy as a child’s water bottle. Designed and developed by a socially-conscious Vermont company, Bitybean is the brainchild of company founder, Doug Hartwell.
Office chairs are designed with a wide range of ergonomic functions to improve back posture and the work environment. Until now, this same attention to back pain has not been extended especially to new mothers. Momby Baby Support changes all of that. A new mom’s back gets tired for many reasons: c-section pain, carrying the new baby, toting gear and from repetitive feeding at awkward angles. With frequent feeding intervals, the back pain can interfere with daily participation in her child’s life. Conventional breastfeeding pillows offer little support for an aching back. The Momby Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding Support is a revolutionary product that provides supportive materials and an ergonomic design to help reduce back stress and make feeding easier for mom and baby.
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.
We would like to share our exciting news with everyone! bINK’d is the winner of The Parent Tested Parent Approved Award! We have received the seal that bINK’d is a product that has been given a seal of approval that families trust and that companies seek. bINK’d is proven to be an exceptional product and is now recognized by this worldwide seal of approval.
A benefit of a global economy is that stores can offer beautiful and unique items from beyond their own borders. Having this kind of reach means you can be the hero for parents and gift-buyers by offering something nobody else can get. In apples-to-apples comparison, England-based Apples to Pears offers the cutest gifts, complete with their own decorative tin packaging (no need to wrap!). Tablets can be cushioned from child-like blows with tabCoosh direct from Australia. The Scottish can be so eloquent with adorable 2D and 3D gallery frames from The Articulate Gallery. From France, TAPIKID playmats by DEUZ stimulate imaginations to fuel the fun.
Retail buyers are already shopping and preparing for the fall/winter seasons. According to the National Retailer Federation, a family typically spends over $600 on back-to-school fall fashions and products for children. Of course, a complete fall work-up for kids includes more than just everyday wear and accessories. Children also require special occasion clothes, mix-and-match pieces, sports gear, and backpacks. Giggle Moon, Fleurisse & Léon, JWORLD and Moon et Miel are among the many brands helping buyers get ready for the fall rush and generate increased sales with functional, trendy products for children.