Monday, December 28, 2009

Associate Editor Ashley Trent To Lead NYIGF New Buyer Seminars

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Talcott Publishing is pleased to announce that Associate Editor Ashley Trent will lead the New Buyer Orientations during The New York International Gift Fair, January 30-February 4, 2010. Along with GLM’s Buyer Services Representative Helen Overly, Ashley will provide tips and her own insight to help new buyers navigate the Fair, use the directory and make the most of their time at market. She’ll also answer industry-specific questions.

“During my career in publishing, I’ve covered it all,” says Ashley. “From home décor and gourmet to gifts and juvenile merchandise,” she adds “I’ve had a hand in everything. I’m excited about the chance to work with new buyers and generate excitement for the week ahead.”

“Talcott Publishing has a long-standing tradition of helping buyers at NYIGF not only before and after the show, but during as well. It’s always satisfying for us to lend any assistance we can in supporting the gift industry,” Publisher Daniel von Rabenau adds. He says that this winter, the company’s editors will be in Atlanta, New York, Las Vegas and Dallas, speaking formally and informally with buyers. “This helps us create a better magazine to serve the industry,” he said, “and it also helps buyers get our perspective, and take advantage of our experience in the industry.”

The New Buyer Orientations will be held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, January 30-February 3, from 8:30-9:30 a.m. in room 1E04. The seminars are free of charge. To register for NYIGF, visit

Friday, December 18, 2009

Anatomy Of A Cover

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

[Ed. Note: Blogspot is a lil' fickle this morning, so the above cover looks blurry. Click here for a better view of the Dec/Jan cover a well as past covers.]

Creating the cover is one of my favorite tasks for each issue of Baby & Kids. I imagine each and every magazine has a different way of doing this, but I thought it would be fun to explain how we do it.

I continually gather images that might work for the cover. I look for amazing products as well as fun, engaging photography. It’s the Baby & Kids style to include two images of kids and one room scene on the cover so this provides a little guidance. I try to keep the images timed for buying, which is why the Dec/Jan issue has products for warmer months on the cover.

Once I have a few companies and images, our graphic designer Joanna and I talk about colors and what pictures work together and which don’t. This typically happens weeks before we finish the issue simply because Joanna has wonderful ideas, and I need to time to mull things over.

In fact, the bottom-right image on our Dec/Jan issue was a late substitution. Another company was slated for that spot on the cover. Although this company had great products, the photos just didn’t work out. Knowing what colors I had to work with, I remembered an e-mail from Cynthia at Blue Ridge International and Joanna slipped a stroller accessory in the third and final place.

As for the other images, I found Oilo at the ABC Kids Expo in September and absolutely loved the bedding. I’ve wanted to put furniture other than beds on the cover, so the chair in this image sealed the deal. I met the ladies from Polka Dot Tot Couture at the Atlanta Apparel Market. Once I heard their story and the concept behind the line, I knew I wanted to put them on the cover.

I get a ton of submissions for every issue, and I use about 25 percent of those. However, everything that comes through my In-Box is reviewed and filed away by category. Sometimes it’s weeks before I return to the cover folder to find new products, but I always love looking through the submissions; they’re my favorite.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Trade Shows 101

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

This January during the New York International Gift Fair (Jan. 30-Feb. 4, 2010), Baby & Kids’ Associate Editor Ashley Trent will lead the new buyer orientations. Ashley will answer questions, discuss the market and help new buyers make the most of their show.

The latest event for Ashley, who also writes for Giftware News and Fancy Food & Culinary Products, got the Baby & Kids editors thinking about what advice we’d offer show attendees. The overall theme: Go everywhere and see everything. Here are a few tips. Any advice you want to share? Leave your tips in the comments.

Wear comfortable shoes.
I learned this the hard way at my first trade show in Atlanta.

Explore all the divisions of the trade show you're attending, even if they don't pertain to your store. You never know what display ideas, color/texture trends or knowledgeable people you'll come across.

Look for deals. It’s just like shopping at the mall. If you can save 10 percent by ordering on a specific day, do it. Free freight is another perk showrooms and temps offer. Show management will likely have a list of these exhibitors and showrooms. No matter what the economy is like, there’s never an excuse not to get the best price.

Enjoy the show. It’s busy. It’s crowded. There’s never enough time. But, the new products and exciting designers are why you do what you do. Don’t let the stress of the economy or what may be happening at your store while you’re away decrease the value of the show.

Keep an open mind. Don’t just go to the same old showrooms. If I see something in a rep group’s window that has an interesting color, shape, whatever, I check it out. You don’t have to stay for a long time if nothing catches your eye, but you never know what you’ll find. I once found children’s towels and umbrellas in a Chicago showroom that carried mostly gourmet food (they drew me in with salsa samples).

Go into all of the showrooms. You never know what will be in the corner and where the next best thing will come from. Be sure to explore. A lot of showrooms will want to set up an appointment, but you might not have time. Take a little notebook so you can remember what you saw and make fast notes.

Socialize. Plan on attending some of the special events even if you are tired. You’ll be able to meet other retailers and maybe even get new ideas.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mark Your Calendars For Kind + Jugend 2010

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Last year, juvenile industry companies were presented with a dilemma: the ABC Kids Expo and Kind + Jugend were just one day apart. Located in Las Vegas and Cologne, Germany, respectively, the close show dates meant manufacturers and retailers had to hurry between events or choose one over the other. In 2010, Kind + Jugend officials announced, no such travel overlap will occur. The Kind + Jugend show will take place September 16-19, 2010, in Cologne, and the ABC Kids Expo will be October 10-13, 2010, in Las Vegas.

In a press release from Kind + Jugend, Mike Curry, creative director for Bumbleride Strollers said “in the past it has been incredibly difficult to split time between those two shows especially for smaller companies as key employees in our company were forced to be present at both events. I look forward to the separation of the shows next year.” Similar sentiments were shared by Jeff Cornelison, executive vice president of international for Kids II: “We certainly appreciated the time gap between the two major shows. Exhibitors now can use their corporate booth design at both events. It will also make it far easier to properly staff those two major trade shows. We expect to see more fellow North Americans at Kind + Jugend based on those date changes.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pantone Spring 2010 Color Forecast

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Talk to enough children’s apparel designers and you’ll notice a trend: they look to the runways of New York, Pair and Milan for design and color inspiration. Pantone, meanwhile, does the same. Looking to fashion and deign, color trend reports are a guiding force for designers and retailers. Here’s a look at the Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring 2010.

The top colors for women’s fashion for spring 2010 are:

PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise
PANTONE 18-1661 Tomato Purée
PANTONE 16-1543 Fusion Coral
PANTONE 16-3320 Violet
PANTONE 16-1219 Tuscany
PANTONE 12-0642 Aurora
PANTONE 18-3945 Amparo Blue
PANTONE 12-1107 Pink Champagne
PANTONE 17-0627 Dried Herb
PANTONE 15-0513 Eucalyptus

According to this season’s report, vibrant brights add a sense of excitement to the palette, especially when set against practical neutrals that provide a safety net for cautious consumers.

Spring and summer naturally evoke feelings of calm ocean waters and tranquil beach vacations in cool, vibrant, tropical Turquoise. This soothing hue from the blue-green family conjures feelings of escape, especially when paired with Amparo Blue. With more warmth than the typical spring navy, this particular shade of blue is extremely appealing because of its brighter, more energetic attitude. Like the scent of a blossoming flower, Violet lends a romantic air to the warm-weather palette. This intriguing purplish hue is a distinctive addition to any wardrobe.

Yellow has made its mark on fashion and spring will further this trend with gleaming Aurora. Reminiscent of the first glimpse of yellow as the sun begins to rise over the horizon, this shimmering, slightly greenish yellow adds a bold infusion. Energy continues to surge throughout the warmer hues, leading to provocative Fusion Coral. This inviting orange connects directly to tangy Tomato Purée, this season’s classic red. Pair it with Turquoise for a retro look.

Thoughtful, cautious neutrals provide a dependable backbone to the brights of spring. Kick back and enjoy the bubbly luxury of Pink Champagne. This delicate, wispy tint is the season’s newest neutral. The melding of Pink Champagne, Tomato Purée and Amparo Blue is a refreshing take on the classic springtime combination of red, white and blue.

Three additional neutrals round out the palette. Tuscany, a warm beige hue, provides the perfect backdrop and works well as a solid base with dynamic accents like Fusion Coral or Violet. Dried Herb is the ultimate green neutral, pairing well with all other colors. Ideal for bigger ticket items, cool Eucalyptus is the eternal, practical gray. Choose this nuanced neutral and add brightly colored exclamation points in shoes, jewelry and handbags.

For more information about the report and to read about Pantone’s other color resources, visit

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

5 Things I Love About Atlanta Apparel

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the October Atlanta Apparel Market at AmericasMart. I was really looking forward to my trip because I love Atlanta, and AmericasMart has always proved to be a wonderful source of inspiration. While the focus of the entire market is on apparel, visitors to Children’s World on the 13th floor will see more than apparel. Furniture, gifts, maternity lines and toys all offer resources for cross merchandising your store. Many of the apparel companies you see in the October/November apparel article are available in AmericasMart, and I found them with the help of showroom managers and rep groups.

Here are a few things I love about Atlanta’s AmericasMart and the Apparel Market:

1. The People: This goes without saying, the people of AmericasMart and its showrooms are beyond helpful and always willing to share their insights. Harriett Smith of Miss Harriett & Co. and I spoke for nearly an hour about her lines, changes in the market and how she works with retailers to help them curate their stores.

2. The Variety: While I was in Miss Harriett’s showroom, the variety of lines available in AmericasMart was evident. I spoke with Meghan Hampton and Mai-Lis Bahr of Polka Dot Tot Couture about their traditional line of apparel with a special collar to keep tops clean, and I previewed the Right Bank Babies line, a smart line of contemporary, trendy children’s clothes. Both lines, different in style, can appeal to the same young mother and have their places in the children’s market. Traditional and contemporary do not have to fight against each other. Likewise, the showrooms in AmericasMart offer apparel that span trends. Connie Todd, the subject of our last retailer profile, shared with us that she too likes Atlanta for this very reason -- a mix of traditional apparel with a healthy dose of contemporary.

3. The Knowledge: I had a chance to sit down with Larry Lucas of the Larry Lucas Showroom. Having been both a retailer and a rep group owner, Larry is a valuable resource for retailers looking for the right mix of children’s products and manufacturers who can rely on his product expertise. Prior to our sit down, Larry took part in a panel discussion about the industry with retailers Nancy Jackson and Diane Bailey. Together, the three answered questions from an inquisitive audience and happily shared their knowledge with other retailers.

4. The Other 12 Floors: Children’s World is just one floor, but children’s products can pop up in the most unexpected places. In fact, I found swimwear from Snapper Rock on a temporary floor. Tara Tuschunski King, AmericasMart media relations senior manager, explained to me as we toured Building 3 that Children’s World the brand is expanding beyond Children’s World the floor. AmericasMart has found children’s merchandise in furniture and gift showrooms, and encourages buyers to explore the market beyond the 13th floor. Beyond Building 3, children's products are available in the gift and home showrooms of the other AmericasMarts buildings.

5. The Product Mix: You can get everything in Atlanta. Showroom upon showroom is filled with more than just apparel. Carolina Baby, for example, carries Boon high chairs, Dandelion recycled tableware and Kee-Ka layette. Furniture from Green Frog Art and bedding from Doodlefish are available alongside accessories from Fashion Angels and shirts for mom from PeaceLoveMom.

The next Apparel Market takes place January 21-25, and the next Gift & Home Furnishings Market is just days before on January 6-13.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spring 2010 Apparel Trends

posted by Mary Gerlach

Stylesight is a trend forecasting firm, and its children's editor Khalym Schell was kind enough to provide our readers with her insights into apparel trend for lil' ones for spring 2010. Here are her thoughts:

For Spring 2010, pattern play and juxtaposition of contrasting elements are strong messages seen throughout all collections, along with the use of impactful color stories to update long-wearing basics. In a season where every penny counts, manufacturers can keep prices down by updating simple basics with bold color combos, print mixing and witty styling. Many brands are cutting costs with unisex collections, which just so happens to be on trend for Spring 2010 with the influx of bright unisex hues and tomboy looks for girls.

Thrifty consumers are also more style savvy, and what used to be a traditional summer items can be worn year round with seasonless colors, sturdy cottons, layered knits, and the right legwear. On the runway designers drew inspiration from various eras to create Spring 10 collections: top themes of the season were flea market, anchors away, rave scene and garden party.

Flea Market - Bohemian styling with eclectic pattern mixing and ethnic touches. Relaxed layers of casual and tailored silhouettes, in a mix of floral and ethnic motifs.

Anchors Away - Fresh takes on summer country club dressing with nautical influences. Sailor stripes, tonal plaids and narrative prints were mixed and matched in a classic red, white and blue story.

Rave Scene - A mix of '80s pop and rave culture influence intense colors and punk-y silhouettes. Exploding graphics for tees come in graphic black and white combinations with shots of fluorescents. Black denim gives it a rocker edge.

Garden Party (just for girls) – Tea parties and flower gardens inspire cake-like dresses and tutus with sweet details. Lace gloves and nylon leggings give confection-like shapes an '80s party girl edge

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Retailer Help

posted by Mary Gerlach

In each issue of Giftware News, Baby & Kids’ sister publication, Mike Russo, president of the Gift Association of America, answers reader questions and offers retailing advice. His advice crosses categories and much of can be applied to any specialty retailer. Here’s a look at a few questions from last month’s column.

Help! As the holiday season approaches, we are getting more and more concerned. We do not want a repeat of last year where we had to cut our prices so drastically. Can you give us some ideas for protecting our bottom line?
In my seminar, “Christmas Merchandising: Science or Chance,” I discuss a variety of key issues for ensuring a strong holiday selling season. The first point I address is early setup. I have always been an advocate for having the holiday merchandise customer-ready by October 1. This year, I have noticed many big-box stores as well as some independent retailers offering holiday items throughout the summer. One retailer was just handing out candy canes to plant the seeds about the holidays. Others actually had a portion of the holiday shop set and ready to go. I am not sure if they were offering leftovers from last year or merchandise purchased for early arrival. The key point is that they saw the need to expose the merchandise early.

Another area to address is the reserve stock. All holiday-themed merchandise should be out on the selling floor. This is the time to “stack it high and watch it fly.” I have seen too many instances where inventory was left in the stock room and sales were lost. During busy periods, no one has time to replenish the shelves. Then the merchandise is forgotten until the maximum traffic opportunities have passed. This leads to markdowns that could have been avoided.
Promotions are always going to be with us, but I do not think they have to be the type that put you in the red. Your assortment plans should include regularly priced merchandise as well as a strong presentation of items that were purchased for promotion. If you see items or categories underperforming, mark them down immediately. Do not hang on to slow movers in the hope that they will sell once the peak traffic period has begun.

You should be paying particular attention to your initial markup. Even if you purchased merchandise at promotional prices, you should set your initial retail prices using the regular cost and not the discounted cost you negotiated with your vendor. It is also important to establish the actual retail price to your customer before you offer it for promotion. This keeps you within the law when showing the regular price versus the sale price. If you never offered the items at the regular price you are stating, you cannot say that you did. Also, the customer will be able to appreciate the savings if there is a true comparison. I suggest having regularly priced items on the selling floor for at least two weeks prior to offering the discounted price. Setting up your shop early will give you plenty of time for establishing credible pricing practices.

Help! We are surrounded by competition. How do we survive when we cannot lower our prices as much as our competition?
This problem is as old as retail itself. In my opinion, the solution lies in your assortment planning and your image. If your image is to reflect a promotional shop, every item must be offered at a sale or promotional price. However, if you are not seeking to be known as a promotional retailer, the solution lies in your assortment plan. Your assortment plan should include basic merchandise (merchandise your customer expects to find in your shop and purchases regularly), promotional merchandise (special purchases, slow-selling inventory that has been marked down, end-of-season specials, etc.), volume-producing items (items that sell in quantity — day in, day out) and a category I call reach items. These reach items are items that are slightly above your regular price line and style. You must always be challenging your customer to try new things. Reach items are items that test the customers’ willingness to purchase items that are a higher caliber than normally found in the store. I suggest reserving approximately 15 percent of your open-to-buy for this category. You never know how much your customer is willing to spend unless you dangle the carrot in front of him or her, and you will not know how open your customers are to new concepts and ideas unless you test them.

Once you are comfortable with your assortment plan and pricing strategy, you need to focus on areas where you treat your customers differently than your competition. You must give your customer a reason for returning and/or spreading your good name to friends and family. The issue is not always price. Convenience and top-quality customer service is more important than saving a few pennies here or there.

The next project I would address is shopping your competition to find out what they are not doing and offering that particular service if possible. For example, a few years ago, some big-box stores decided to eliminate layaway from their customer offerings. The independent retailers who picked up on this mistake did very well because they were able to attract customers who preferred to pay cash and used the layaway service to accomplish their goals. Guess what? The big-box stores who tossed out the layaway program are reinstating it. The big-box stores violated the number-one rule in retailing; that rule states, “Listen to the customer.”

You should not fear your competition. Instead, let your competition be your teacher. You can learn as much about what to do as what not to do if you pay close attention. A good rule to follow is this: If it doesn’t make sense (like tossing out a successful layaway program), think twice or three times before you do it. Surveying your customers is another way to keep in tune with their wants and needs. When in doubt, it is always good to ask.

Help! I find the seminars offered by some of the markets to be useless. Either there is a high-powered celebrity talking about concepts and classifications that are over my head (and my customers’ pocketbooks) or the presentations are more of the same old thing we have heard for years. How can we get the markets to offer more meaningful programs?
It is a known fact that some celebrities attract crowds, and the various marts want to attract as many buyers to their particular shows as they possibly can. If bringing a celebrity to the market fills that need, I find nothing wrong in this strategy. However, if the presentation is not geared properly toward the audience, it is nothing more than a self-serving exercise. The celebrity may want to push a book or a product line that is beyond the scope of what the audience needs or wants. The presenter should address issues apropos to the audience’s needs, especially at a specific trade event.

Although I am not familiar with the various shows you attend, I can comment on your frustration with hearing “the same old thing.” In my opinion, this may tie to budget issues. Everyone is tightening their belts, and market centers are no different. Speaker fees range from one extreme to another. In some instances, quantity rather than quality may be the issue. However, I cannot offer a definite statement concerning the quality of any speaker because I do not know the criteria used at every market. My experience does allow me to say that budget can be an issue.

I suggest that you contact the merchandise center or centers that you frequent and share your concerns. In addition to your concerns, I suggest that you offer some topics for consideration. If you know other buyers who share your frustrations, ask them to write as well. The markets want buyers to attend the shows, so they should pay close attention to the requests made, providing they are articulated appropriately and sensible in their demands. If we have learned anything from this economy, it is that we must listen to the customer and be ready
to adapt to changing times and customer need.

Monday, August 31, 2009

ABC Excitement

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

The Baby & Kids editors attending the ABC Kids Expo answer. What are you most excited about during the ABC Kids Expo? (Associate Editor Stephanie Hunsberger will be busy running and organizing a 5K for The Lexi Kazian Foundation). Tell us what you’re looking forward to in the comments, too.

I'm looking forward to meeting with first-time exhibitors at this year's ABC Kids Expo. A new exhibitor's excitement is truly palpable and contagious to all attendees! I find that fresh-faced companies take the utmost pride in displaying their products; they are eager to show everything they have to offer, and they often inspire other exhibitors to reignite their passion for the industry.

I've always enjoyed attending new shows for the first time. I'm looking forward to seeing all the creative designs and innovative products being introduced in the baby and kids field. I think it's interesting that more and more companies are looking toward fashion trends and incorporating them into their lines.

I’m most excited about producing the Official ABC Show Dailies. We’ve put so much hard work into these Dailies, and I can’t wait to see the words on the printed page! Plus, Barb, Ashley and I are all magazine writers used to long deadlines and time to plan. I think it’ll be fun to produce a daily publication and try something new.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How To Submit For the Official ABC Show Dailies

by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

If you’ve read our newsletter (sign up here if you don’t get it) then you know that Baby & Kids magazine is producing the Official ABC Show Dailies. This show really is the crème de la crème of children’s shows, so we’re excited and honored to take on this challenge.

Last week, the hard work of writing the articles kicked into high gear and I started getting calls from PR people inquiring about how to get in. I thought I’d take this opportunity to address how to submit for editorial consideration in the Official ABC Show Dailies. If you’re not going to the show, no worries; these tips can apply when you’re pitching any journalist, and I put some general PR tips at the bottom of the post, too.

For the ABC Show Dailies:
We’re writing a lot of the content before we get to the show, so contact me soon if you want to be included.
  • Have high-resolution images (300 dpi) and product information available to e-mail when you call or send your pitch e-mail to me at mgerlach(at) We can’t run computer renderings. We need images of the final product.
  • Got an event in your booth? Planning a special promotion? Let us know! We aren’t just covering product launches. Noteworthy speakers and events are newsworthy.
  • Be proactive about making appointments and sending images. You’ll never bug me if you send me a press release and high res images without me having to ask!
  • On that note, don’t be upset if you aren’t covered. This doesn’t mean you won’t be included in another publication later. I met Beth from Fireside Comforts at the May Spring Conference and it was five months before I included the company in an article.
  • Booth location, images, contact person and company details are helpful to have on hand.
  • Don’t be surprised if we just drop by your booth. Sometimes you find yourself with 20 extra minutes in the middle of the day, and this is often the best time to say hi to someone you never made an appointment with.

Here are some general PR tips you might find handy all year round.
  • Follow-up. Editors are busy, and sometimes we need reminders.
  • When you’re e-mailing back and forth every five minutes, it’s time to pick up the phone.
  • Know the company’s real news. Everyone gives their products to celebrities or wins an award, so don’t make that your pitch. Real news is an event, hiring or promotion related to retail sales, new product and line. Also, use the word innovative sparingly. Editors see everything in an industry and won’t have to be told if something truly is innovative.
  • Know the magazine, what it covers and its audience. I am always disappointed when I hear about something I want to cover, but find out the company sells through its Web site only because I only cover companies with wholesale programs.
  • Don’t argue with the editors. If he or she says your product is not a good fit for the magazine or article, the editor will know best because he or she is the one actually writing the article. If you are absolutely convinced the editor is wrong about this you may have done a poor job explaining the product.
  • Don’t use guilt as part of your pitch. I can speak for the editors here when I say we’d love to include everyone, but that’s not possible.
  • Don’t get offended if a tactic you’ve used shows up on this list, or you think I’m wrong. Editors. Magazines. PR pros. We’re all different.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Keeping It In The Neighborhood

by Barbara Wujcik, editorial coordinator

When I stopped in a neighborhood gift shop recently, I found a perfect gift for my brother — a Chicago White Sox-themed deck of playing cards. The woman at the counter asked if I wanted it gift wrapped. At first I said no, but she suggested it could be wrapped in team colors and pulled out some black wrapping paper. With a white ribbon this small, fun gift took on some extra charm.

That’s the kind of thing that neighborhood gift shops do best. They provide that extra service and a personal touch, and that’s why people come back to them. There is also a toy shop in the same area where a salesperson will walk around with you and point out things that are good for the kids of a certain age. The place has many repeat customers.

These shops feel more like visiting your neighbors than shopping. Think about it. People tend to buy from people they like and are comfortable with. They want them to succeed and continue. It’s all about making connections with your neighborhood.

I’ve read news stories recently about “frugal fatigue.” People are getting tired of watching every dime. I’m not saying that customers are going to run out and start spending madly, but I think someone might treat themselves to some earrings, a new bag, personal care products or a small home decor piece. And as one company rep told me “gift occasions — birthdays, births, weddings — continue no matter what." Your shop can be the place they come to for those gifts.

Get to know your neighbors. Take a look at who’s walking down your street. See a lot of young families? Might be time to put in more kid’s items; plan store hours so moms can come in after they drop their kids off at school. Think about sponsoring a youth sport team. Carry merchandise that reflects professional and collegiate teams in your area. And, of course, be sure to thank customers for shopping locally.

Participate in sidewalk sales, pet parades, charitable activities — show people you’re a good neighbor. Hold occasional open houses to thank people for their patronage and hold sales around neighborhood festivals. The more you connect with the community, the more people will want to come in just to see what’s new. It will, after all, be like dropping in on a neighbor.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cross-Market Buying: Editor's Picks

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Last month, my fellow Baby & Kids editors and I attended the Chicago Market gift show. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important for juvenile retailers to attend gift shows in order to discover products they otherwise would not have seen. Wendy Carver of Yikes Twins told me that during the last Atlanta show she has better response in her new location in a gift building than she had within the juvenile apparel floor. Likewise, Trisha Schultz, marketing director for the Chicago Market, related to me that juvenile vendors are seeking out gift shows to introduce themselves and their products to an entirely new market.

Below, the Baby & Kids team shares its children’s finds and out-of-market surprises. First up, Associate Editor Ashley Trent:

MyPerennial’s line of children’s clothing and accessories, such as these darling headbands, features interchangeable snap-on felt pieces in various shapes and colors. Owner Jen Hopwood, a former elementary school teacher, sketches all her designs by hand. She also makes fun felt products for moms, including brooches, bags, hats and scarves.

The bright, modern packaging of Better Life’s line of cleaning supplies caught my eye right away. These all-purpose cleaners — developed by a chemist and an eco-friendly maven, both of whom fathers — are ideal for busy parents. The company even has a no-hassle nursery cleaner called 2am Miracle that deodorizes and cleans any surface that has seen a nasty mess.

Mary Gerlach’s finds:

The one-of-a-kind swatches from Angelina Studio reeled me in, but I absolutely loved this charming pink cupcake painting. Angelina displayed it in a vertical arrangement with three other coordinating canvases. I love the bright colors and the brushstrokes. Great for a child’s room, kitchen, breakfast nook or any cheery spot in the house.

Minga Fair Trade Imports brings an impressive assortment of products for most markets to the United States while fulfilling its mission improve local economies with nations of the southern hemisphere and create fair trade relationships with retailers. There’s a lot to take in at the company’s booth, but my favorite items were the knitted pocket sweaters for fall. Minga carries several fall/winter sweaters for both boys and girls.

Barbara Wucjik’s finds:

My find of the show was Squeak Me Shoes. I think the shoes, which have the squeaker in each heel, are inspired because the noise lets you know approximately where the child is, short of putting a bell on him or her. It probably also lets you know if there's too much quiet. The shoes come in lots of cute styles and great colors for both boys and girls. And they have recently introduced a group of licensed collegiate shoes for the youngest fans.

Stephanie Hunsberger's finds:
My magazine experience has mainly been in the gourmet industry so far, and when there is industry cross-over, I can't help but get a little excited.

When I was at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago this past spring, I noticed that a lot of companies were introducing products related to kids in the kitchen. It seemed that spending time with your kids in the kitchen was the newest budget-friendly way to bond with your children. This sentiment was carried through at the Living & Giving show at the Merchandise Mart, where
I spotted the newest tot-size chef hats and aprons from Mariasch Studios (represented by the Haefling Group). The hats and aprons are 100-percent cotton and can be customized with images and phrases, such as "Mommy's little helper."

For a more colorful approach, Manual Woodworkers & Weavers offers both trendy retro half-aprons for children and whimsical designs with phrases such as "Chef In Training" and "Queen of the Kitchen in Training."

Other non-kitchen related items that stood out to me were from Ozark Mountain Kids. The chairs and footstools from Ozark Mountain Kids are plush and overstuffed, covered with a soft chenille, and perfect for curling up in with a favorite picture book or in front of that movie you can't stop watching (mine was Wizard of Oz). I know they're not new items, but they certainly made me want to be 5 years old again!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

U.S. E-tailer Visits Her First Int’l Gift Show

By Megy Karydes, founder, and Karydes Consulting

I launched five years ago as a way to help support women in developing countries and to teach Americans why we should support fair trade. The fair trade movement in the United States is slowly gaining momentum but as more and more consumers are demanding accountability from manufacturers and retailers, has become a trusted source for many of our loyal customers. Not only do our customers appreciate the fact that their purchases are helping others less fortunate, but they are drawn to the handmade quality and uniqueness of each product as well.

Therefore, I jumped at the chance to travel to Johannesburg, South Africa, in early August of this year to attend South Africa’s Gift show called the called the South African Handmade Collection. The opportunity would allow me to meet more artisans at the show as well as travel to other South African cities to meet with other fair trade artisan groups.

Well-versed with the trade show circuit having attended all of the major and some regional ones in the United States, I am handling my preparation to my first international trade show much the same way – by pre-planning as much as possible. Minor exceptions include making sure my passport was up to date (which it is), my international flight and hotel were booked (they are) and finding someone local to help show me around (I’m taking care of that two weeks before my trip.). I also reached out to the show planners to find out who else was traveling from the Midwest so I could connect with them in advance, too (it’s always nice to know others traveling with you – makes my experience richer anyway!).

Nonetheless, pre-planning for any trip, domestic or international, is a must because time is so limited once you arrive at a show. I’ve already reached out to my customers to let them know of my trip so they can share in the experience with me as well. I’ve also asked them if there is anything specific they’d like me to seek out so I can keep that in mind while I’m there!

Since many rules and regulations have surfaced when it comes to baby and children’s products sold in the United States, it will be important for me to keep those rules in mind as I shop for any children’s merchandise. This is something to really be aware of since different countries have different laws surrounding production and if you’re going to be importing into the U.S., you’ll need to make sure your imported products meet U.S. standards for safety, lead, and other rules surrounding your industry or categories.

I still have a few of weeks before my flight and have many questions which I hope to get answered before I leave: if I bring back product with me, do I have to pay taxes; how do I import items I order when I’m at the show; is internet access widely and readily available so I can blog about my experience while I’m there and stay in touch with family in the U.S.; what do I need to pack? And, then again, I don’t want to overthink my trip because, as we all know, sometimes we have to go into a show with an open mind and experience the magic of a show.

I’ll let you know how my trip goes! Or, you can follow my shenanigans at! Hope you have wonderful travels this summer!

-Megy Karydes, Founder
Fair trade gifts, home accessories and jewelry

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Out Of Your Comfort Zone

By Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Last week, I gave my colleague and fellow Baby & Kids editor Stephanie a sample of Snack Happened, a reusable snack bag, from Itzy Ritzy. Just a few days after sharing the bag, I read a blog post Stephanie wrote for Fancy Food & Culinary Products magazine about Snack Happened, and I was thrilled to see the review and her endorsement. It got me thinking about how often products within the juvenile industry cross over into other markets; in this case a child’s lunch bag crossed over into gourmet food.

When product designers limit what they do to a specific market, they limit the growth and sales potential of their product. This is exactly why children’s furniture is shown at trade shows as varied as ABC Kids Expo and High Point Market. The shows are worlds away but there is an overlap in the furniture market. Just as manufactures can’t afford to miss out on supposedly out-of-industry markets, retailers can’t afford to not attend new and different trade shows.

I’m going to the Chicago Market this week and I’m really looking forward to discovering what new finds the giftware market has to offer the juvenile market. Considering items like layette and personal care naturally fall within both categories, attending a gift show is an excellent way to discover new companies. And, the importance of keeping close tabs on trends in other industries cannot be understated. Yes, no one wants to copy someone else’s idea but innovation spreads, and examining product design and speaking with vendors really gets the creative juices flowing.

I’ll post next week about my trip to The Chicago Market, and my fellow editors and I will share with you our favorite finds.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Beginner Trade Show Tips

by Mary Liz Curtain, retailer, Leon & Lulu

If you are developing an item or a full product line, trade shows are one of the most effective means of exposing your product to a large number of potential clients in a particular industry.

Are you ready for a trade show? Before you sign up for a booth, be sure that you are prepared. Do your homework! Research the show or shows you may attend carefully, since this not just a major expense but also really a lot of work and not to be undertaken lightly. As a new vendor, decide if you want to start at a consumer show, where you will be selling at retail, or a trade show, marketing your products at wholesale prices. If at all possible, visit and walk the show before you exhibit.

Research the market so you can make a reasonable sales projection, and write a brief business plan that covers what you estimate what your costs will be for the show, the inventory you will need, and the expenses to fulfill the orders. This list will give you a good start on what you need to know.

1. Product: Do you have the goods? If your item is brand-new, seek advice from sales reps, store owners, or a consultant to be sure that the line is market-ready. It must be large enough to make a decent order, priced correctly, and packaged for resale.

2. Inventory: If your line is a success, can you fulfill the orders? If you do not have the production capability to ship what you sell, you run the risk of alienating your new customers. If you do run into problems, be sure to keep your customers updated so they do not cancel or refuse their orders.

3. Fulfillment: Can you ship the product? If your merchandise is breakable, ship test orders to your friends and family across the country to be certain nothing arrives broken. Set up your shipping service with USPS or UPS before the show.

4. Terms and conditions: How will you conduct your business? Define your payment and freight terms before the show, establish credit policies, and set up merchant services with your bank so you can accept credit cards. Decide what your minimum order amount and minimum quantities per item will be.

5. Order forms: Have an easy-to-use order form printed with your logo, contact information, and terms.

6. Pricing: You must know both your costs of goods and the costs of running your business to be sure you are able to support the sales effort. As you consider your pricing, understand that retailers need margin. A store in the gift and home industry must AT LEAST double your wholesale cost, and many are searching for items they can mark up 2.3 to 2.5 times. If you are also selling your goods on Etsy, eBay, or at craft shows, do not sell them for less than your customers’ retail prices or you will lose your wholesale accounts. Customers will pay for quality, even in this rotten economy.

7. You cannot compete on price. Be sure that your selling prices cover your costs and give you a profit or you will put yourself out of business. It is possible that a unique, handmade item or one produced in small quantities will be too expensive to sell at wholesale, but it is better to learn this before you try to sell it at a show. Every successful company has developed terrific products that are unmarketable for one reason or another, so if your first one does not succeed, keep trying.

8. Your family and friends are terrible judges of your product. First of all, they love you, so they want to tell you nice things. Second, they are probably not professionals. The dinner table is not a focus group. Consult with some experienced merchants, sales reps, or consultants to see if your product is viable.

9. Should you exhibit on your own or with a rep? Investigate your options for each territory or trade show.

10. What will it cost? Include all these expenses in your plan: booth rental, freight, drayage, lighting, union labor, samples, catalog or price list, order forms, and travel.

11. Company image: Your booth, employees, and all collateral material must reflect the image your company wants to project. Design all components carefully!

12. Lighting: No matter where else you cut corners, do not skimp on the lighting. Buyers will walk right by a dark booth.

13. After the show, follow up on your leads promptly and ship your orders quickly. Make your invoices clear and easy to read.

This is just the tip of the trade show iceberg, of course, but I have only one page. For more Trade Show Tips and Tricks, visit

Choose your trade shows carefully, plan them well, and always remember the most important thing about wholesale: It is not the order, it is the reorder.

Mary Liz Curtin has shopped, spoken at or exhibited in thousands of trade shows, and she still gets a thrill when she visits a new one. While this is seen as a personality disorder by some, it certainly helps Leon & Lulu, the store she and her husband own that is full of wonderful things. See the store at

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ABC Announces Exclusive Day For Specialty Stores

posted by Mary Gerlach, associate editor

All Baby & Child, Inc., producer of the ABC Kids Expo, announced that the first day of the upcoming ABC Kids Expo (Sept. 13-16 in Las Vegas) will be open exclusively to buyers from the industry’s specialty “brick and mortar” stores. The remaining three days will be open to all retailers and buyers.

The exclusive shopping day will be provided to offer more optimal show exposure for all show participants, help promote a more rewarding show experience and sustained growth among all industry partners. The show, organizers say, originally was created independent specialty retailers and the exclusive shopping day is intended to do just that.

This is a continuation of ABC’s commitment to specialty retailers. Last spring, ABC held it’s inaugural Conference and Trade Show, providing independent retailers with valuable time to meet with manufacturers and develop meaningful business relationships.

During the ABC Kids Expo in Vegas, look for exclusive show coverage from Baby & Kids magazine in the Official ABC Show Dailies. As the single source of daily news distributed on the show floor, daily coverage of the Expo will help retailers navigate the show for effective buying. Click here for more information about The Official ABC Show Dailies.

To register for the expo, visit

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Names, New Faces

by Mary Gerlach, associate editor, Baby & Kids magazine

There have been three exciting additions to the Baby & Kids editorial staff. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of welcoming colleagues Barb Wujcik, Ashley Trent and Stephanie Hunsberger to the magazine.

Both Barb and Ashley have worked for Giftware News, Baby & Kid’s sister publication, and they bring with them years of experience in newspaper journalism and magazine editing. In fact, Barb wrote for Baby & Kids when it first began and was published just twice a year. For the August/September issue, Barb will cover licensing and Ashley will add her home décor expertise to the furniture article.

Stephanie Hunsberger, our third new editor, joins us from the gourmet industry. For more than two years, Stephanie has served as the associate editor of sister publication Fancy Food & Culinary Products. For her first feature, Stephanie will interview and profile the owners of juvenile store StorkLand in the Texas and Oklahoma.

All three of these women have been respected colleagues at Talcott Communications, and I’m thrilled to add them to our masthead.

Baby & Kids' editors: Barb Wujcik, Mary Gerlach, Stephanie Hunsberger and Ashley Trent.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Twitter: Extra! Extra! Tweet All About It!

by Denise McVey, president, S3 Public Relations

What does Twitter mean to your retail business? Look at this growing social media form as an opportunity to bond with customers and drive business.

Step 1: Get a Twitter account (free at You’ll need an e-mail address to get this started. I suggest having your Twitter account name be the name of your store if at all possible for maximum recognition factor.

Step 2: Populate your Twitter account with frequent updates. THIS is your big chance to connect with customers who want to know more. How much more? Whatever information you can provide that is of value to them. Just marked down last season’s styles? Tweet all about it. New shipment arriving this afternoon? Share the news. Having an industry expert or respected designer in to talk? This event is Twitter worthy. Create an inner circle your followers want to be part of. Steer away from overt hawking of goods – again, the Tweet needs to represent value to those who are following you. Their response (“Retweeting” so others hear about it, showing up, buying...) is the value you hope to derive, thanks to the creation of a relationship between you and your “followers” (those following your updates on Twitter).

Step 3: Follow and be followed. Twitter users have the opportunity to follow and be followed by other Twitter users. This is what allows all the hyper-connectivity. Don’t be afraid to follow others, but try to weed out Tweeters whom you expressly don’t want to be associated with. If you sell toddler toys, for example, and adult entertainment expert may not be someone to follow. (You can even block followers you identify who may harm your brand.) All this following and being followed gets your message out in front of others, every time you Tweet.

With the recent massive growth of Twitter, don’t be surprised if more people than the population of a small country end up following you. No, they won’t all personally purchase anything from you. But if you’re doing it right, among that mass there will be individuals who transact with you – or who influence someone else to do so. The true potential of Twitter lies within you: recognize how it best applies to you. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it’s pretty easy – and it offers excellent ROI for a minimal time investment. Just be sure to keep the momentum going, because you’re only as good as your last Tweet.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Needle In A Haystack: Identifying the best candidate for the job in a sea of applicants

by Shawn Boyer, CEO of

While the upside to a down economy might be the increasing size and quality of your applicant pool, identifying the best candidates – especially among hourly workers – can be an overwhelming task.

Time is of the essence. After all, the general lifespan of an hourly application is about 30 days. Beyond that, the application is likely “stale,” meaning that the candidate may have found a position, changed physical location or may have out-of-date contact information. That’s why it’s so important for hiring managers to keep their pipeline stocked, even when it seems like so many qualified people are looking for employment.

To combat an ever-increasing number of applications, HR professionals and hiring managers need to consider how to quickly identify the best candidates for the job. Every employer should include filtering practices in their overall hourly recruitment strategy, i.e. ways to “weed out” unqualified candidates.

Many struggle with the decision to hire someone over or under qualified for the position if the perfect candidate has not emerged. On one hand, the over-qualified applicant may bring valuable skills and expertise to the team, but he or she may soon walk away for a higher-level position somewhere else. On the other, taking on someone with a major learning curve could require extra training time and slow the rest of the staff down. In the end, you want the best candidate for the job, which is why it’s so important to refine your criteria.

To screen for the right candidates during the application process, you must ask the right questions that pertain to your retail business, a step that will require a bit of work on the front end. You’ll want to develop a combination of assessment questions that are specific enough to identify the qualities you are looking for in a candidate and broad enough to offer you a range of applicants. Done the right way, you’ll also eliminate candidates who simply are not a good fit.

The basic questions:
1. What experience level does someone need for a given position? (If you are hiring for a sales associate, you may want to require a year or two of customer service or sales experience.)
2. Are there industry-specific concerns to address? (A friendly and knowledgeable staff is absolutely critical for any retail business.)
3. What kind of applicant is needed for the culture/atmosphere you foster? (For example, an outgoing personality goes a long way when dealing with customer inquiries.)
4. From a logistical standpoint, do you need to consider a candidate’s availability to work a certain shift? (Applicants for your freight associate position should be available to work nights or early mornings when your shipments come in).

More sophisticated options may include questions about what the candidate wants from the job? (Are they realistic about expectations? Will they leave too quickly for what you need?)

Some job sites can be helpful in screening applicants ahead of time, allowing you to interview only the best candidates. At, we usually offer our clients a 60-day pilot program to test filtering questions and adjust as necessary. For example, if a manager is getting too many applications, we may add one or more filtering questions so that applications that do not provide the desired answers will not be sent to the client, thereby reducing applicant overflow. And if applications are too few, we will strip away questions to broaden the field. (Of course, we always allow hiring managers to view all applications that have been collected, even if some had originally been filtered).

Simple steps like coming up with the right mix of questions will save your company time and money in the long run. Filtering will dramatically reduce fruitless interviews with ill-suited applicants and will allow you to focus on what’s most important: running the business.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Safety First: Marketing To Moms

by Mark Vance, chief marketing officer, Rainsoft Water Treatment Systems

For veterans in the juvenile market, the concept of mom-centric marketing is nothing new. Moms are a key demographic in marketing plans for products from diapers and juice boxes to vacuum cleaners and laundry detergent. But now, there’s an added twist – after digging deeper into the mind of the mom to determine what really drives her purchase decisions, researchers are finding that it all boils down to moms’ basic drive to keep their families safe from harm.

More than anything, moms want to have more control over their home environments. There’s always something to worry about on the outside, from swine flu, to sex and violence on TV, or the economy. Mothers know they can’t control what goes on outside the home, but they take every possible step to make sure their families’ immediate environments are safe and secure.

I call this psychographic profile the “Protector Mom.”

Some of her traits:
- Young children (ages 0-7) in the home
- Concerned about keeping a clean, comfortable, germ-free home, but dislike housework
- Want to protect their families from harm both in and outside the home
- Busy schedules, looking for convenience and stress-free solutions
- Search for information about potential purchases online

Companies like Dodge, General Motors, Evenflo and Johnson & Johnson all have recently embarked upon marketing campaigns designed to woo moms who want to protect their families from harm both in and outside the home.

What does this mean for the juvenile market?

There’s more to it than just complying with increasingly stringent laws and regulations. This is great, but there’s also a market out there for products that actively help moms protect their families – e.g. child GPS tracking devices. You also have products that allow parents to filter what comes into their homes – like the V-Chip, which allows parents to block certain content from cable TV, or the product my company sells, which filters the water that families use to eat, drink and bathe.

Think about ways you can reach out to the Protector Mom.

Maybe it’s modifying your existing product to incorporate a helpful safety feature.

Or, tailoring your marketing plan to incorporate more of the channels the Protector Mom uses.

Most important, don’t forget to listen to her – you might be surprised at what she says. At RainSoft, conducting focus groups with Protector Moms helped us focus on new initiatives, refine our marketing strategy and implement new marketing tactics. In future posts, I hope to write about some things we’ve tried, and share some tips for marketing to moms.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Calling All Innovative Baby Products

by Yarissa Reyes, communications manager, Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association

Is your product innovative? Marketable? Trend Setting? Appealing? Useful? If so, it could be chosen as one of the 10 most innovative products on the market today!

Every year, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) holds a competition for the most innovative products in the market. Entries are evaluated by a selection committee of trade media representatives and industry retail buyers, and judged on their innovation, marketability, trend-setting potential, appeal and usefulness.

To compete, you must be an exhibitor at the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas. Winners will be announced during a press conference at the Expo and will be featured in Baby & Kids magazine.

Each year, more than 100 companies enter their most cutting-edge products for this renowned competition, but only 10 winners are selected. Will yours make the cut?

Click here to learn more about the competition and download the application today! Deadline is June 15 so act fast!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Small Business Owners Working To Amend CPSIA

by Jill Chuckas, owner, Crafty Baby; secretary, Handmade Toy Alliance

Activist, lobbyist, press secretary. Not titles that I would have anticipated preceding my name a year ago. But boy, what a year can do. I own a small, handcrafted children’s accessories business called Crafty Baby. In December 2008, one of my accounts e-mailed me requesting a General Certificate of Conformity in compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). After much reading and many restless nights, I realized that my company was in trouble. Not because my products didn’t comply with the new safety regulations, but because I knew that I could not afford the testing protocol to prove it. A week later, I joined the Handmade Toy Alliance (HTA) and quickly took on a leadership role in the collective effort to educate, inform and work toward common sense changes to the CPSIA.

The months since December have been a roller coaster, to say the least. I have spoken to countless members of the press, corresponded and spoken with my members of Congress, written dozens of press releases, outreached to artisan-based show promoters, including, the Buyer’s Mart of American Craft, Sugarloaf Craft Festivals, New York International Gift Fair, and Artrider Productions, and assisted in writing letters to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It is amazing what a person can do when their very livelihood is at stake!

In April, I and hundreds of others traveled to Washington D.C. to attend a rally and legislative visits. Industries affected by the CPSIA had the opportunity to share their stories in an open forum on Capital Hill. As Secretary of the HTA, I was given the opportunity to speak on behalf of handcrafted artists throughout the country (Video Here). Following the rally, I met with Rep. Jim Himes (CT), members of Sen. Lieberman’s (CT), Sen. Dodd’s (CT) and Sen. Kerry’s (MA) staff. In each meeting, I needed to assure my members of Congress that we at the HTA believe in child safety. We want products that are free from toxins and healthy for our families. We believe in the intention of the CPSIA, but the third party testing requirements are redundant and cost prohibitive for our membership, and do little to improve overall product safety. Many of our members, myself included, may very well be out of business in August of this year when the third party testing and batch labeling requirements go into effect.

Since the rally, I have been involved in drafting an actual amendment to the CPSIA, incorporating risk assessment back into the legislation. This way, the CPSC can once again do what they do best – assess risk in the products available for children and implement common sense rulings regarding testing protocol for lower risk products such as mine (for example, allowing component-based certifications to show that the end product is compliant). Never in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself writing legislation, but here I am, trying to effect real change in this law. It’s pretty different than my day job – and a lot more draining.

Without real change, small businesses throughout the country will slowly, but surely become extinct. And I, for one, will not go quietly. Joining together with other hand crafters and retailers of handcrafted products, has given me a voice and comradery that has been absolutely essential to my work to enact change. The thing is, all I really want to do is keep making my clutch balls and Nap Packs, among other things. Let’s hope this time next year, I still will be. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ABC Hosts Spring Conference, ABC Kids Expo To Move To KY In 2011 And 2012

All Baby & Child, Inc., organizer of the ABC Kids Expo in September, held the first ABC Spring Conference and Trade Show in Louisville, KY, May 4-7. The show was developed, members of the ABC Board and executives explained, to provide a venue for specialty retailers to have more direct access with manufacturers. Additionally, the conference and trade show portions of the event were staggered, allowing both retailers and manufacturers to attend educational seminars without sacrificing time on the show floor.

In a press conference, officials from the City of Louisville and ABC announced the Board of Directors’ decision to relocate the ABC Kids Expo to Louisville in 2011 and 2012. Currently held in Las Vegas, the Expo is scheduled for Sept. 23-26, 2011, and Oct.14-17, 2012. Louisville was praised as “Possibility City,” with convenient access for ABC attendees and exhibitors, modern facilities and its own brand of hospitality.

The educational portion began with a keynote breakfast during which industry leaders addressed the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act and its implications for the industry. Jacque Sternquist presented the new Baby Products Experts online venture sponsored by ABC. is a new program to support specialty retailers and their unique product expertise within the community. Meanwhile, smaller breakout sessions were scheduled to address store management, selling techniques, retail displays and more.

The Spring Conference saw the continuation of ABC’s partnership with several industry organizations. Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S) collected juvenile merchandise from exhibitors to be distributed to children and families in need throughout Kentucky, and First Candle was on hand to promote its efforts to lower infant mortality rates.

The next event for ABC, The ABC Kids Expo, will be held Sept. 13-16 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Baby & Kids magazine will produce The Official ABC Show Dailies each day of the Expo. For more information, visit

Monday, May 11, 2009

Welcome To The Blog

It seems that each day I’m getting e-mails about new business strategies to survive in a recession, or a new product parents need and kids want. From retail basics to trends, there’s a lot of information to sort through. We’re launching the Baby & Kids blog to fill an informational void and provide you with the marketing, sales, merchandising, buying and product news you need.

In addition to contributions from me, Mary Gerlach, you’ll also get the perspective of juvenile market insiders. In this era of 24-hour new cycles and a never-ending flow of information, it’s important to get your information from a trusted news source.

Bookmark this Web site or subscribe to the blog for updates. And, don’t forget to let us know what you want to read about. E-mail your feedback to