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Innovative products shine for specialty retailers at ABC Spring Show

abcspringNew products were on display last week at the 5th annual ABC Spring Conference and Trade Show, geared to specialty retailers. The show also featured a half-day of conference panels and speakers on hard-hitting topics including social media, showrooming, bloggers and more.

Both manufacturers and retailers seemed positive about the show, which is significantly smaller and shorter than the fall ABC Expo.

"I think we all like this format," said Bengt Lager, president of Regal Lager. "It's less stressful for the retailer, and there is more time and more opportunity for networking with your peers."

Phil Fairey, owner of three Baby Furniture Plus Kids retail stores in North and South Carolina, was also pleased with the show.

"It's surprisingly deep in new product, and the focus on specialty products has been strong," said Fairey. "It's viable product, directed to the channel."

Indeed, manufacturers took the opportunity to introduce some innovative new products, many of which are being offered exclusively to specialty stores initially.

Halo debuted the BassiNest Swivel Sleeper with media demonstrations at a suite in the South Point Hotel and Casino, where the trade show was held. The unique infant bassinet moves to allow baby to sleep as close as mom wants yet still have baby sleeping safely in his own separate sleep area. Its swivel design and patented retractable wall also help mom tend to many of her baby's needs while still in bed.

Colgate Mattress showed the EverTrue line of baby and toddler mattresses, which feature proprietary SecureCore Technology. The new line features four mattresses consisting of a Supreme and Elite foam, an Eco and a Gel mattress, all with the SecureCore Technology advantage. The line is being offered exclusively to independent retailers through Brixy, and Colgate is also conducting a consumer public relations and marketing campaign to support the launch of the new line.

"For fifty years our independent retailers have been a strong partner for Colgate Mattress," said Dennis Schuetz, director of marketing at Colgate. "These stores have asked for a way to help them as they compete with the big retailers and online sales. We are excited to offer them this exclusive line that will only be found at their establishments."

Brand new manufacturers also came to the market with unique new products, including Pully Palz, a toy that attaches to car seats and uses a pulley system to allow baby to retrieve a pacifier; Nuroo, a baby-wearing shirt designed for skin-to-skin contact; and Poncho Baby, a unique nursing cover that allows mom to view baby.
The trade show also featured plenty of new product and designs in more established categories like furniture, bedding and gear.

Kiddy USA showed an infant car sear that features a unique lay-flat position for when the car seat is used with a stroller. The seat features side-impact protection, eight different colors and a $299 retail; it will be shipping in the 4th quarter.

Liz and Roo made its trade show debut with trend-right bedding made in the USA and offering discounts to Brixy members. Owner Carol Ann Anderson was pleased with the show.

"It's been great to actually meet the customers we've been doing business with, and we've met new customers and they've ordered," she said.

Wood manufacturers offered plenty to choose from for specialty retailers, including several new American made lines and a variety of European high-end designs.

Capretti has completely revamped its line, which is now made by Midwestern Amish craftsman, and is offering options including custom color and sizing. The solid maple furniture features dovetail drawers, dustproofing, levelers on case pieces, anti-tipping safety brackets, and Blum Blumotion self-closing drawer slides. Capretti is offering six collections and eight finishes.

"This is more of a coming out for us to introduce our line," said Mitchell Schwartz, president of Capretti. "...The retailers recognize the quality and craftsmanship of the product we're offering...(They) were very, very excited about our product."

Capretti is also distributing furniture and bedding from Spanish company Coleccion Rosabel, which includes high-end cradles and mini-cribs made of sturdy Valchromat and available in nine colors.

Romina Furniture showed its Romina Exclusive line of high-end nursery furniture, which includes details like hand-carved legs, antiquing done by hand, solid hardwood, and sterling silver handles. The line will be offered to dealers who buy into an entire display package, which includes Italian-made rugs and fabrics, silk window coverings and wallpaper.

And newcomer Bellefonte Kids made its debut at the ABC Spring Show, showing three new groups of solid hardwood furniture made in Bellefonte, Pa., and manufactured in the Woodcraft Inds. facility.

The three new groups included Oslo, Vanderbilt and Stanford, with cribs retailing under $800.

Industry veteran Jerry Schwartz, formerly sales and marketing director for Ragazzi, is heading up the operation, and is catering the line exclusively to specialty stores. He said reaction at the show was great.

"We're looking to partner with the independents," said Schwartz. "Success today depends on the building of strong relationships with independent stores."

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