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Children's Catalog Finds Moms Go Cuckoo Over KooKoo Bear

Home décor for children is definitely not child's play.

KooKoo Bear Kids, which was launched a year ago with an upscale approach to the category, has found that demand is strong enough to warrant the introduction of a second, gift-oriented catalog for the upcoming holiday season — the KooKoo Bear Kids Holiday Gift catalog.

When husband-and-wife team Joe and Tara Mediate found themselves between jobs several years ago, they decided to combine their skills and start a catalog and Web site offering children's products. They uncovered what they thought to be an under-served niche: home décor and gifts items for children in the middle- to upper-price ranges.

“Our strategy is unique products but at multiple price points,” said CEO Joe Mediate.

Many of the items in the original book have a vintage look while some are available only in limited quantities. The real surprise is how well gift items are doing, he said.

KooKoo Bear Kids, Roswell, GA, sends gifts in a yellow box with a matching ribbon bow and a gift card handwritten with the customer's personal message. Gift wrapping is available for $4.95 for the first item and $2.50 for each additional item. Some oversized and dropshipped items cannot be gift packaged.

“People are really excited when they walk into a baby shower with a gift that can't be found anywhere else,” president Tara Mediate said. “There are a lot of grandmothers and mothers who don't want to go to the store. They know when they buy from us that [the gift] will come gift-wrapped and have a handwritten gift card — that it will look like something special.”

Last year, the company sold enough gifts between November and December that it decided to create a catalog focused exclusively on unique gift items for children for this holiday season. The 58-page KooKoo Bear Kids Holiday Gift catalog will be mailed in October to 400,000 names. One-quarter of the mailing will go to existing customers and 75 percent will be sent to prospects.

Items will include blankets, toys, letter sweaters, monogrammed birthday plates, high-end diaper bags, personalized wall art and desk accessories for kids. Prices will range from $11 to $1,000.

The target audience for both the home décor and gift catalogs is women ages 30 to 45 with an annual household income of $200,000-plus and who buy from a catalog at least six times each year.

The first KooKoo Bear Kids home décor catalog was mailed last July to 100,000 households. A new catalog was produced for each season with 25 percent of the 1,100 items being new for each season. The Web site, kookoobearkids.com, offers 1,800 items. In its first year, the company had 11 mail drops for a total circulation of 1.2 million catalogs.

The original catalog is, on average, 68 pages long. Items include: a Western and a Floral teepee ($300); cotton letter sweaters ($56); along with lighting, bedding, nursery furniture, sleepwear, photo albums and toys. Prices start at $11 and go as high as $1,470. The average order size is $155.

“What works for us is that you can't buy these items in PB Kids or Bombay Kids,” Joe Mediate said.

Best-selling items from the original catalog include a Take Me Out to the Ball Game wall sign for $28, chandeliers, monogrammed burping cloths and high-end bedding.

“I brought in some lower-priced bedding and that didn't work. Our customers are looking for the higher-end,” said Tara Mediate, who added that personalization is a popular request.

The company's fall catalog, which was mailed earlier this month, introduced a new line, Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic, a line of children's bedding, furniture and sleepwear.

The company expects to keep to a one-a-month schedule for the KooKoo Bear Kids catalog.

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