Last week, I made a quick trip to Louisville, KY to take a look at the ABC Kids Spring Conference. This is the second year that ABC, who produces the massive juvenile industry show each Fall, has mounted this event. It’s a small show, especially compared to the behemoth in Las Vegas, but it’s only for specialty retailers who have actual stores. It’s a great place to meet manufacturers and other retailers, exchange ideas and information, and learn about some new products.
After my trip to Amsterdam the week before, I thought my kids would totally lose it if I left again for the whole conference. So instead I opted to take a day trip to Kentucky. I don’t recommend it, in case you’re wondering. Our connecting flight to Louiville was delayed in Washington DC due to fog in South Carolina. But as we sat in the terminal waiting for our flight, we had an unexpected experience.
A woman started coming around and handing out small American flags, explaining that an Honor Flight was about to arrive, filled with veterans from World War II. It was unforgettable to stand at the gate and applaud these men and women as they came off the plane (many in wheelchairs) to spend a day visiting the memorials in Washington. They emerged from the jetway into a crowd of cheering travelers, fluttering flags and music. Most were blinking back tears (as were all of us doing the cheering).
Even with the detours, I managed to spend about five hours perusing the show, and I saw some interesting things.
Britax has a lot of new products coming down the pike, including some improvements to their car seats and a new stroller that will turn a lot of heads. The “B Ready” is a hybrid stroller with a reversible seat that looks a bit like the UPPAbaby Vista. But the innovation is the second seat, which attaches to the rear, like on a phil&teds, but offers a full recline, a sun canopy and can be replaced with a car seat adaptor, making the B Ready a great choice for siblings or twins. The Baby Jogger City Select has been wildly successful over the past couple of months (and hard to find, while supply balances out with demand), but the B Ready will definitely be worth a look for those parents looking for a stroller that will adapt to hold one or two children. I’ll have much more information to share as that stroller gets closer to its launch date, hopefully this summer.
Beaba, makers of the popular Beaba Babycook, has been slowly expanding their feeding line to include a range of colorful and functional pieces. When I visited baby stores in Amsterdam, I was surprised to see how many unfamiliar Beaba products were on the shelves, but it turned out they’re all en route to the USA. I particularly loved the Beaba night light, a departure from their usual category, but a beautifully designed piece that is safety certified as a toy, so it is completely safe for babies and kids to play with it and have it right at arm’s reach at night. There’s also a new Rice Cooker attachment for the Babycook, which can be inserted in the steamer basket and used to cook baby-size portions of rice or pasta.
I was surprised by how much I liked the newly redesigned Micralite Fastfold. We had carried this product before, in its previous iteration, but it never really got off the ground. Their new US distributor, Scandinavian Child, is going to try again, this time with a car seat adapter. The stroller is still pretty funky looking, but it’s the most lightweight hybrid stroller out there, and the colorful mesh seat creates an appealing, space-age aesthetic. The price point is also looking good at $319.
UPPAbaby has had unbelievable success with their Vista stroller, but parents have been begging for a snack tray. Well, asked and answered; UPPAbaby has designed a lovely one. Made from a special clear plastic, the tray holds a sippy cup or juice box firmly in place and has a sunken area for finger foods. It’s easy to remove, and with the clear plastic, you hardly notice it.
On the flight down to Kentucky, I noticed the Nap Nanny in the background of a gorgeous picture of Sandra Bullock and her new son Louis in People Magazine. Sure enough, it was one of the most talked-about products at the show. It’s a portable, foam infant recliner that can later be used as a toddler chair. The shape is similar to an infant car seat, so if your baby loves sleeping on a bit of an incline, the Nap Nanny can be a godsend. We’ll have it in our stores soon.
Other notable releases will be covered in separate posts, including a new carrier from Baby Bjorn, an amazing new product from our friends at Go Gaga, and the brand new Nook Sleep System.
If you’re interested, you can check out my photostream from that day on Flickr, which includes images from both the Honor Flight and the show.