From goose-down pillows to celestial nightlights to chalkboard armoires, Pottery Barn Kids is "IT" for pint-size furnishings.
Remember the days when Barbie sheets and Tonka truck curtains were as fancy as kids' decor got? A time when unicorns, super-heroes and cartoon characters ruled your child's walls, windows and floors? Well, times are a-changing. Nowadays, Susie's room can be adorned with pastel star-quilted bedding atop her very own rosette bed. Meanwhile, on the other side of the hallway, Johnny can play with his golf game + rug combo after finishing homework at his Catalina desk. In other words, San Francisco-based Pottery Barn Kids is changing the way parents decorate their kids' rooms by "offering a collection of children's furnishings and accessories that are well-designed, stylish, casual and affordable," says Patrick Wynhoff, vice president and general merchandise manager for Pottery Barn Kids.
Developed and determined to fill a niche in this industry, Pottery Barn Kids mailed its first catalog in January 1999. In 2000, the eclectic, whimsical collection that once decorated the pages of a catalog came to life within the walls of eight stores in seven states: California, Georgia, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Florida.
When asked about the possibility of franchising, Wynhoff says, "It is not a business strategy of Williams-Sonoma (Pottery Barn Kid's parent company). We closely manage our own brands." With consumers jumping on the kid-furnishings bandwagon, there's no surprise the company plans to open 20 stores in 2001. Furthermore, with only a small number of retailers competing for the children's furnishings dollar, such as Rooms To Go Kids and ea kids (Ethan Allen kids), Pottery Barn Kids is on the forefront of this new trend.
Usually found tucked inside regional malls or lifestyle centers, the company "targets sites in the 5,000- to 8,000-sq.-ft. range with a strong presence of children's product destinations," says Wynhoff. Co-tenants may include abercrombie, Gap Kids or Stride Rite.
"Each Pottery Barn Kids is set up in a lifestyle format," explains Wynhoff. "Every store is light, happy and spirited." Taking cues from the elder Pottery Barn, the kids' store also includes a Design Studio complete with rug-, window- and even quilt-flippers.
In response to the store and product set-up, Wynhoff believes the retailer's customers are spending more time leisurely shopping in the store. While parents stroll about admiring lights, bedding, hardware, window textiles, etc., their kids are likely to be playing on large toys or playroom furniture. The merchant has even included bathrooms with changing stations in hopes of adding Pottery Barn Kids to their target audience's list of comfortable destinations for them and their children.