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Hidden Gems

Mogo Design
Convertible bracelets

Pink Axel
Printed beanie

3 Cheers for Girls!
Backpack

Mogo Design

Convertible bracelets

Mogo Design

Pink Axel

Printed beanie

Pink Axel

3 Cheers for Girls!

Backpack

3 Cheers for Girls!

Knuckleheads

Newsboy cap

Knuckleheads

Daily Tea

Hats

Daily Tea

Me In Mind

Sock set

Me In Mind

Giddy Giddy

Purse

Giddy Giddy

Fore by Axel and Hudson

Hat

Fore by Axel and Hudson

High IntenCity

Charm bracelet

High IntenCity

Pediped

Gladiator sandal

Pediped

M. Andonia

Purse

M. Andonia

Bella Tunno

Headbands

Bella Tunno

Scotch Shrunk by Scotch & Soda

Trilby hat

Scotch Shrunk by Scotch & Soda

Children’s retailers are discovering what their women’s apparel counterparts learned long ago: Females—no matter what age—love shopping for accessories. Buyers are reporting the category is their fastest growing and after a year of selecting safe apparel (i.e. basics and value collections), they’re finding cute, affordable add-ons fill the sales gap. As Mary C. Lavin, owner of Twirl Kids’ Boutique in Vero Beach, Fla., explained, “The $150 Lili Gaufrette outfit is a much harder sell, but almost everyone can afford a $16 necklace.”

The easy “yes” that accessories stimulate offers buyers incentive for staying on the hunt for an array of fresh baubles and bows. “I reorder frequently and buy from a variety of wholesalers to continually mix it up. I get new shipments every week and customers look forward to new arrivals,” Lavin said.

Other retailers agree, noting that as soon as a girl is old enough to talk (or point!) she’s demanding the little extras they have merchandised around their stores. And although it’s a tougher category, boys can also be wooed. Accessory brands that meet boys’ style quotient sell almost immediately, however, shop owners regard the selection for boys as weak. At Jamara Ghalayini’s Pumpkinheads boutique in Pasadena, Calif., boys’ accessories are popular add-ons and birthday gifts. “Customers like the adult hat styles that are shrunken down for boys,” she said. “I wish there were more brands tackling the boys’ category.”

Here, retailers outline their accessories
success stories.


Mary C. Lavin, owner, Twirl Kids’ Boutique, Vero Beach, Fla.

What percentage of revenue do accessories represent?

In 2009, 20 percent of our sales were from accessories. It’s up to 25 percent to date in 2010 and still growing.

Are you expanding your selection?
My biggest growth areas are tween and accessories. I started by adding tween items such as jewelry, scarves and wallets and soon realized that high-schoolers and moms were buying them. Since then, Twirl has become the area’s go-to store for easy gifts.

What is your buying strategy?
I get new shipments every week and customers look forward to new arrivals.

Best Sellers
• No Slippy Hair Clippy ($8)
• High IntenCity’s Charm It! & Charm Candy ($5 to $20)
• Embroidered positive message wallets from Natural Life ($30)
• Peace sign scarves by Funky Junque ($15)

Gina DeFrank, co-owner, Moxie Kids, Raleigh, N.C.

Has the economy impacted sales?
We see a lot of growth in this group and are actively adding accessory lines to our store—especially items that are less seasonal, like belts and hair accessories. Customers today are looking for less expensive ways to add some fun to their child’s wardrobe.

How do you promote this merchandise?

We display hats and sunglasses at a height so kids can try them on themselves. Accessories are the single item that kids love to try on, and once parents see it on, they’re more inclined to buy.

At what age do girls start noticing accessories?
Girls start young! At about the age of 2, girls want to try on headbands, sunglasses and sparkly flip-flops. They look at themselves in the mirror and wear the items around the store.

Best Sellers
• Giddy Giddy felt hair clips with animal and flower motifs ($9)
• Vintage caps from Sand Cassel Kids by Goorin Brothers ($25)
• Sparkly Mary Janes from Morgan & Milo ($40) and See Kai Run’s fisherman sandals for boys ($40)
• Handmade animal pouches by Giddy Giddy ($34)
• Teeny Tiny Optic Sunglasses ($9) in retro styles

Kathryn O’Connell & Toria Kaufman, owners, Koukla Kids, Sacramento, Calif.

What percentage of
revenue do accessories
represent?
24 percent.

Shoes?
10 percent.

How do you promote this merchandise?
To promote our Charm It! bracelets we offer a frequent buyer card (supplied by High IntenCity) where the customer gets one free charm for every 10 purchased. For accessories such as hats, we offer photo sessions called Tiny Topper with our in-store photographer. Hat portrait parties are a unique way to get our clients shopping for their children while getting some great photos, too. We’ve gained a reputation for carrying a wide variety of hats.

What is the pricing “sweet spot”?
Accessories under $20 do well in our area. We host many gift-givers and find their budget for gifts typically ranges from $20 to $30. Other than shoes, we offer hair accessories, hats, jewelry, socks and tights, and purses for children in this ballpark price range.

Best Sellers
• Classic bows from Bows Arts ($3 to $10) and Ashley Anne’s pink and and lime rhinestone flower clips ($12)
• Charm It! from High IntenCity ($5 to $10)
• M. Andonia’s Smitten Kitten children’s purses ($27)
• Silver Alara sandals from See Kai Run ($40)

Allison MacCullough, owner, Bundle, New York

How do you promote accessories?
We e-mail our clients when we get new merchandise and give it prime space in the store. Specifically, we put it in our windows and display it on a table located front and center when you enter the store.

What is your buying strategy?
I keep a small open budget for new accessories that I see throughout the season. Since our store is located in Soho, designers stop by on a daily basis to show me new things.

What is the pricing “sweet spot”?
I try my best to keep them all under $20. Often accessories are an add-on for a gift or a little treat if the child is in the store.

How would you describe the category for boys?
People love hats, suspenders, ties and bowties for little guys. Accessories are an easy way to make your little boy more stylish without spending a lot.

Best Sellers
• Stella Bella handmade flower headbands ($19.50)
• Egg Baby’s cotton sunhat in a purple and navy giraffe print ($23)
• Pediped’s gold Aurelia gladiator sandal for pre-walkers ($42) and the Phoebe sandal ($53) with braided leather details for older kids


Molly Ridenhour, e-tailer, Pure and Honest Kids


What percentage of revenue do accessories represent?

8 percent.

Shoes?
10 percent.

Has the recession changed your accessory business?
It’s definitely slowed a bit. Accessories are considered extras, and during a recession, extras often get dropped.

Do your customers like traditional or trendy accessories?
The things that pop best on screen also sell the best. Price point makes a difference, too. Customers seem to be willing to pay more for traditional items but less on funkier accessories.

What is the pricing sweet spot?
It depends on the item, but under $10 or $15 seems to work well for hair accessories, hats, socks and tights, while I’d say it’s under $45 for designer shoes.

How would you describe the category for boys?
Socks and hats are the best-selling accessories for boys. Shoes also do well, although boys usually have far fewer shoes than girls.

Best Sellers
• No Slippy Hair Clippy grosgrain bows and glitter flower clips ($8)
• Solid and striped tights by Country Kids ($10 to $12)
• Daily Tea bucket hats ($19)
• Livie & Luca footwear ($45)

Marlo Hoffman, co-owner, Psychobaby, Chicago

What percentage of revenue do accessories represent?

30 percent.

Shoes?
Our current sales are at a steady 5 percent. We have a slightly harder time finding footwear we like, and our favorite adult lines have slimmed down their kids’ offerings. I think this will change as the economy grows more confident.

Has the recession changed your accessory business?
Since the price point tends to be lower, we’ve seen some increased business in this category. Our accessory business has always been strong for us. However, it is more challenging to find small, unique vendors, which is why we have increased
our own line.

How do you promote this merchandise?
Our main thrust has been the social networking platforms—Facebook, Twitter and our Psychobaby blog—and we are constantly trying out new media outlets in the digital space.

What is missing in the accessory category?

Original ideas! It sometimes feels like one bad copy after another. I guess this is the case in any fashion business.

Best Sellers
• Glitzy, over-the-top hair clips by Rachel Weissman ($8)
• Me In Mind rock ‘n’ roll sock sets ($26)

Misty Polston-York, owner, Pout Couture, Cornelius, N.C.

Are you adding or cutting any accessories?
We are adding more hair bows and hats. Being in the heart of the South, hair bows (the bigger the better) have always sold well for us. In the last two years, more customers want cute hats—especially cool hats for boys. We’ve made an honest attempt to add more of these items to our inventory in the fall season. One item we are cutting back on is jewelry. We just do not have many of our customers asking for it.

What is the pricing “sweet spot”?
It depends on the item. As far as shoes, most people want to stay below the $50 range for an everyday style, however our best-selling shoes are Lelli Kelly, which are around $80.

How would you describe the category for boys?
Shoes, shoes and more shoes! We sell our boys’ shoes as fast as we get them in and it seems that I’m constantly reordering. I can honestly say that we sell as many boy shoes as we do girl shoes. In fact, more moms are so happy to find great boy shoes that they end up buying several pairs at once.

Best Sellers
• Big bows by Plantation Creation ($6), Reflection’s floral headbands and bows ($12), and floral clips by Itzy Bitzy ($10)
• Multicolor flower hats from Jamie Rae Hats ($25), Flap Happy sun hats ($25) and Knucklehead’s newsboy caps ($25)
• Lelli Kelly’s sparkly beaded tennis shoes ($80), Mary Janes from WeeSqueak ($34), Rainbow Steps’ brightly colored Mary Janes ($40) and light-up shoes from Dinosoles ($45)
• Oopsy Daisy Baby tutus ($46)

Angie Parde, owner, Tiaras Kids Boutique, Lincoln, Neb.

What percentage of revenue do accessories represent?
20 percent.

Shoes?
10 percent.

Are you expanding your selection?
We are always adding accessories to our store, and we’re even adding women’s accessories for the moms. The category has grown from the first day we opened.

What is your buying strategy?
I go to market two or three times a year—the Dallas market and Las Vegas kids show—and look online for new and upcoming designers.

How would you describe the category for boys?
We have some Ed Hardy-inspired sunglasses and hats that boys love, but it’s difficult to find products. Boy accessory lines need improvement.

Best Sellers
• Pink Axle’s guitar beanie ($18) in pink and black for babies and toddlers.
• M3 Girl Designs snap caps ($6 to $10), especially the Peace & Love group.
• Squeaky styles by Pickle Shoes ($34)
• Backpacks and overnight bags by 3 Cheers for Girls! ($27)
• QT Sunglasses ($9) and Bon Bon Cupcakes ruffle tights ($22)

Kelly Quinn, manager, Real Baby Inc., Boulder, Colo.

Do your customers like traditional or trendy accessories?
Both. For example, we do just as well with BabyLegs’ classic striped style as we do with their skull and crossbones pattern.

How do you promote accessories?
Accessories are displayed throughout the store and in our window. We dress our mannequins in full head-to-toe looks and place accessories that match with one another nearby to help parents make decisions.

What is the pricing “sweet spot”?
Under $30 for items like hats, but parents will pay for cuteness.

Best Sellers
• Rachel Weissman barrettes ($8)
• Pink Axle caps ($20) and Goorin baseball hats ($15)
• BabyLegs arm- and legwarmers ($14) and Trumpette sock sets ($24)

Andy Behrman, owner, Wonderland (A Children’s Place), Brentwood, Calif.

What percentage of revenue do accessories represent?
15 percent.

Has the recession changed your accessory business?
It seems that the accessory business slowed down a bit for us when the recession first hit, but accessories are definitely in demand again.

Do your customers like traditional or trendy accessories?
We have customers who are ultra-traditionalist and others who are looking for hip products, so we try to accommodate everyone by carrying both types of merchandise.

At what age do girls start noticing accessories?
Girls start paying attention to accessories as early as 18 months. It starts with princess crowns and jewelry and eventually they gravitate to more sophisticated, fun and funky accessories.

Best Sellers
• Rhinestone-embellished hairclips by Rachel Weissman ($12 to $16)
• Goorin Brothers’ floral and solid sunhats and caps for girls, and vintage-inspired caps for boys ($24 to $36)
• See Kai Run’s navy blue sneakers for boys and girls’ red and pink Mary Janes ($42)
• Magnetic bracelets by Mogo Design that can convert into headbands and necklaces ($18 to $35)

Jamara Ghalayini, owner, Pumpkinheads, Pasadena, Calif.

How do you promote this merchandise?
Our cash wrap is a sweet spot for accessories and is perfect for last-minute add-ons and displaying inexpensive items parents don’t have to think too long and hard over.

What is your buying strategy?
Accessories are a different buying trip altogether, and unlike with apparel, I look at every catalog that comes in—I don’t have to see the line in person. I pick up merchandise throughout the year, but the best time for me to buy is May and November. This is when inventory is low. Accessories are an affordable way to fill up an empty-looking store.

Do your customers like traditional or trendy accessories?
Our customers are conservative, but want accessories with flair. This is where we seek trends and where they dabble in fun colors and embellishments.

Best Sellers
• Grosgrain clips by No Slippy Hair Clippy and Pea Soup headbands ($9 to $11)
• High IntenCity’s Charm It! and M3 Girl Designs’ Snap Caps necklaces ($5 to $10)
• Hatley lunchbags ($13)
• Vintage baseball hats from Sand Cassel Kids by Goorin Brothers and Scotch & Soda ($19 to $22)
• Pediped’s Abigail flower shoe ($33) and crystal-embellished Havaianas by Dini ($40 to $60)
• Piggy Paint eco-friendly nail polish ($9) and Elegant Baby sock sets ($16)

Cherita Jones-Thomas, owner, Milk Money Children’s Boutique, Charlotte, N.C.

What percentage of revenue do accessories represent?
20 percent.

Shoes?
12 percent.

Has the recession changed your accessory business?
As clothing sales lag, accessories are booming. I’m adding to my accessory category because they’ve been good sellers throughout this recession and are great gifts.

How do you promote this merchandise?
We use our mannequins and sometimes our stuffed animals. I also have employees wear some pieces around the store. For example, we have a pacifier holder by Bink Link our associates wear as nametags that also say “ask me about this item.”

Are moms or kids selecting merchandise?
The children are making the decisions, and with most, bling sells best. They usually pick up hair accessories like they’re shopping at a candy store.

How would you describe the category for boys?
Boys never really start paying attention to accessories, but there is a market for it—mostly hats and backpacks.

Best Sellers
• Floral-embellished hair clips from Creative Clips by Colleen ($12)
• Fore by Axel and Hudson fedoras ($25), baseball and newsboy caps by Kangol ($30) and crocheted hats by Bitsy Bean ($25)
• Myself Belts ($20)
• EcoSnooper backpack by Pecoware ($22)
• Monogrammed diaper covers by Mud Pie ($15) and Kidorable umbrellas ($13)

Sharon Collins, owner, Gazoodles Kids, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Are you adding or cutting any accessories this season?
I am cutting back on shoes because there are so many knockoffs now at a lower price point.

What is your buying strategy?
I buy seasonally and fill in during the season. Colors change, fabrics change, so I try to keep it fresh and I like to match products with some of the apparel lines to have that extra sale.

Do your customers like traditional or trendy accessories?
Mine like the funky accessories. Other stores in the area carry more traditional items.

At what age do girls start noticing accessories?
I carry bows because you have to have hair bows in this region, but I find that around 4 or 5, girls stop wearing the bows and want cute clips. Glitter and bling are always a plus.

Best Sellers
• Bella Tunno reversible headbands ($12)
• Jamie Rae’s crocheted, knit and velvet hats with flower embellishments ($22 to $26)
• Sandals and ballet flats by Kid Express ($44 to $66) and Wee Squeak’s peony Mary Jane and fisherman sandals ($31)

Angela Velasquez

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