By Jessica Goldbogen Harlan
Furniture manufacturers heading to the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas this month will showcase pieces that grow with the child and that allow their young owners to express their personality.
“Teens today have grown accustomed to selection and configurability,” said Ward O’Quinn, product manager for Young America. “They use and rely on products every day that allow for self-expression. Whether it’s the playlist they create on their iPhone, their customized sneakers from Nike iD or their favorite creations at the smoothie bar, teens today are used to getting what they want, exactly how they want it and quickly!”
Woodpeckers Inc., which makes ready-to-assemble furniture, is promoting its value-priced twin-sized captain’s bed, which has three under-bed drawers and a bookcase headboard. Owner Peter Karantonis said that retailers are looking to bulk up their offerings of promotionally priced goods, and the company’s captain’s bed is priced at only $85 wholesale.
One company that offers up customizability in short order is Legaré Furniture, which is launching a line of flat-packed, freight-efficient ready-to-assemble beds. Like the company’s other products, the beds are fast and easy to assemble, with a locking design that eliminates the need for screws and bolts. The bed headboards and footboards have different colored finishes on either side, as well as asymmetrical shapes, so they’re reversible to change the look.
“College students move a lot; our stuff is so simple to transport, set up and disassemble, and there’s no wear and tear on it,” said Mike Markwardt, president of Legaré Furniture.
Meanwhile, a new collection of Danish pine furniture from Ark Group grows with the child, beginning as a twin-sized bed and converting into bunk beds or high lofts. The pieces can be customized with canopies and curtains that create unique looks.
While C&T International doesn’t focus specifically on teen furniture, the designs within the company’s three brands—Sorelle, Lusso and the new SB2—are all designed to grow with the child, with cribs that convert into toddler and then full-sized beds. At the show, two new collections will be added to the Lusso brand, which is focused on independent retailers. George Ivaldi, president of C&T, said the company will be focusing on darker finishes.
C&T International will also be showcasing products from its new SB2 collection, which Ivaldi calls “e-commerce-friendly,” with nearly all products compact enough to be shipped via UPS. Most products retail for $199 to $399.
Lee Blount, business manager for Ark Group, believes that teen furniture buyers at the Expo will be on the lookout for loft beds for their space-saving design. “They can put storage underneath, like case goods or a desk, to help utilize space,” he said.
Bunks and lofts are in focus for Bolton Furniture, which is introducing a stair unit that is an accessory for the company’s bunk beds and lofts. It’s available in all finishes and can be added to any of the company’s existing bunk and loft beds.
“We are addressing space saving issues as well as safety related to getting in and out of bunk beds,” said Ted Weber, sales manager for Bolton Furn iture.
Storage, especially when it’s customizable, is always an issue in a teen’s room, and Joni-Craft’s solution is its new RooMeez line, a modular storage system of 15-inch square cubes with interchangeable front panels. “You can create a custom storage system for unique spaces, and we’ve developed a lot of accessories so you can even build a computer desk or a puppet stand,” said Nick Schwarz, vice president of marketing.
Furniture that’s safe and made with environmentally responsible methods and materials continues to be top of mind among consumers, and, in turn, the retailers that cater to them.
“Constant product recalls and changing regulations make buying furniture for children of any age challenging for parents today,” O’Quinn said. “At Young America, our efforts with Greenguard and Intertek help to assure parents that they are purchasing products that meet the most stringent standards in indoor air quality and crib safety in the marketplace today. Parents are more aware than ever and will not compromise the safety of their children when given a choice.”
Also sure to be discussed on the Expo floor is the show’s move to Louisville in 2011, and how the new location will affect business.
This year’s show is Legaré Furniture’s first time at the ABC Kids’ Expo, but Markwardt said if his company gets good results, he’ll be looking forward to the move to Louisville. “Louisville would be a lower cost for us to do, and it’s not entirely unionized like Vegas, so you can save a little.”
Blount of the Ark Group toured the Louisville space where next year’s show will be held. “The facility is fantastic,” he said. “It is very modern. We’re based in Virginia, so we are looking forward to being that much closer.”
But Weber of Bolton Furniture points out, “The first show will be tough because it runs concurrent with High Point [Furniture Market]. However, he says, “We have no problem going to Louisville, and the convention center seems to be extremely nice.”