Young America by Stanley ramps up Signature Shop openings
Another 18 slated to open in coming months
Heath E. Combs -- Furniture Today, April 5, 2011
The shops have been around nearly five years, and Stanley has spent the past two years getting aggressive about the growth of the program.
As the company begins a national advertising campaign touting Young America in publications like Fit Pregnancy, Parenting and Newborn, American Baby and Baby Talk, its broader plan for the youth category is coming more into focus.
In 2009, Stanley repositioned Young America as a go-to brand for safety, broad selection, quick delivery and environmental commitment. It moved the production of youth beds and cribs back to its domestic facilities for a Made in the U.S.A. quality story.
The expansion of its Young America Signature Shops effort has been most aggressive over the past 18 months, according to Kevin Bowman, Stanley's senior vice president of sales and customer service.
The typical format for the shops embedded in stores is 2,000 square feet, but some can range up to 4,000 square feet. Stores usually carry about 10 youth product settings, Bowman said. The shops show only the Stanley youth products and have separate entrances and exits. There's also one standalone Signature Shop in Newton, Mass., a 25,000-square-foot store.
All the Shops display marketing materials that help drive parents to the Young America website. The Young America logo is prominently shown, as are images of kids in various stages of childhood to reinforce the idea that the furniture can grow with them.
The spaces emphasize product safety and quality of materials used in youth furniture items by Stanley.
Stanley is hoping the Shops will be a surprise discovery for moms as they search for other infant and young child products. The company says the concept is different from a traditional furniture gallery because of the marketing and the store-within-a-store concept, Bowman said.
"The idea is this concept of discovery versus destination," he said.
According to Bowman, the effort is to place the Shops where consumers have more shopping frequency than traditional furniture store destinations. That includes locations like malls, or youth and infant stores where a variety of children's products can be found, he said.
Bowman said most major markets around the county now have at least one Signature Shop.
The recently opened 4,500-square-foot Charlotte, N.C., shop operated by youth and infant products retailer Shower Me With Love is a good example of how the shops can reach their target demographic, he said. It's near a high-end, high-traffic shopping district, not to far from some prominent furniture stores, and has about half of its store dedicated to Young America products.
Shower Me With Love also has two experienced designers on its staff, available for consultation and recommendations.
Bowman said the goal is to have parents become immersed in the Young America idea: safety, color options, and a quality Made in the U.S.A. story that also helps retailers trade up to better prices, an ultimately, better profits.
"I think (retailers are) really reaching out for something that is working," he said. "I think it's been tough for retailers over the last couple of years. I think we used to look at the youth category as something that was recession proof. I think everyone has realized it is not."
Stanley had been outsourcing some Young America product and it was a difficult decision to bring all manufacturing to the U.S., Bowman said. But for where the company wanted to position its youth program, it was the right move, he said.
Bowman said Stanley is giving retailers better options at the premium priced end of the youth category, especially since as the youth category has gone the way of so much else in the industry - commoditized and sold on price alone.
"They can't make money if they're selling suites for children for $1,000," he said. "They want to sell suites for $2,500 for $3,000 but they need a reason to get consumers to do that. Because the recession has caused consumers to trade down and we give them a reason to trade up."