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Youth bedroom buzzing at High Point Market

Plenty of introductions here in hot category

AT THE MARKET — Case goods resources are stepping up their efforts in youth bedroom here in hopes of tapping into a fast-growing category.

Some are entering the category for the first time while others are adding to or revamping their displays to create more interest for buyers. They also want to show they are serious about the category.

Universal Furniture is a case in point. This market it is launching its Smartstuff youth bedroom program with four key collections, one for boys, one for girls and two unisex.

Featuring twin beds that retail from $499 to $699, each collection has roughly 25 to 30 SKUs, said Kevin Miller, brands manager. Groups come equipped with features such as built-in headboard lighting, iPod or alarm clock trays for the upper bunk, hidden compartments in girls' dressers and removable partitions in drawers.

They also have self closing full-extension drawers and safety features that include lead-free finishes, tip kits to prevent pieces from falling over, and grooved ladder steps on bunk beds for better traction.

Made in the company's dedicated factory in China, the groups can be purchased on mixed and full containers as well as one piece at a time out of its High Point warehouse.

Miller said Universal views the youth segment as a separate business.

"We are completely committed to it," he said. "It's a category that has weathered the economic storm we have all seen as well as any other category.

"Parents are still spending on their kids.... The category lends itself to engaging a consumer and keeping that customer. As the child gets older and the needs of the child evolve, you come back for that chest or dresser," he said.

New Classic Home Furnishings has been in the youth category about 10 years. However, this market it is making its biggest launch in memory with 12 new youth collections, each with as many as a dozen SKUs. That brings the company's total youth lineup to 16 groups.

The company is devoting about 7,000 square feet of recently acquired space in its showroom to the category, said Rob Hoffman, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

"Like a lot of people, we have dabbled in youth, but now we are a complete youth program," he said. "I have been selling youth for 30 years. People sell youth furniture, but there are very few programs in youth. The market needed quality, mid-priced youth furniture that can grow with the child and what better time than now? The youth market is underserved."

Featuring twin panel beds that retail from $299 to $399 and twin-over-twin bunks that retail around $499, the groups feature dovetail drawer construction, felt-lined top drawers on case pieces, and storage. They are available on mixed containers from overseas, on truckloads or one piece at a time from New Classic's Greensboro, N.C., or Fontana, Calif. warehouses.

"The dealer can buy it how they want to buy it," Hoffman said.

Bedroom manufacturer Vaughan-Bassett is devoting about 9,000 square feet of its 26,000-square-foot showroom to the youth category.

The company has been producing youth furniture for about eight years, but only showed it in a piecemeal fashion in its High Point space. Now, every one of its four major youth groups are shown as a group, including a new addition in a white finish called Hamilton.

With twin beds retailing as low as $399 and bunk beds retailing around $699, the collections also come in multiple finishes. Two have six finish options and the other two have three finishes.

In addition to twin, full and bunk bed options, the groups also include a student desk, hutch and chair as well as footboard storage options.

"It's a growing segment in the marketplace and without a doubt, it is a growing segment for Vaughan-Bassett," said Doug Bassett, chief operating officer, noting that youth sales represented about 5% of revenues five years ago and today they are just over 15%. "It is growing in importance for us, so we thought it was time to display it appropriately and make it a point of emphasis this market."

Also expanding its youth presence this market is Ashley Furniture, whose New Millennium collection includes a number of new domestically made youth groups. Its new iKids initiative, which includes New Millennium groups, offers innovations with various technological and electronic components built into the furniture.

Youth resources Legacy Classic, Magnussen Home and Powell Co. are among the other companies adding to their youth lineups this market.


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