There were more babies born in 2007 than in any time in the country’s history, and those 4,315,000 little bundles of joy are potential customers to a growing cadre of baby-centric businesses.
The baby product industry nationally was worth $8.9 million last year, according to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
This year could be stronger.
Not only is there a regenerating supply of new customers every year, but it remains seemingly unaffected by fickle buyers. Even if parents don’t purchase goods for themselves, they will always buy for their babies, slow economy or not.
Professional organizer Mary Devereaux, owner of The Uncluttered Baby in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla., said that her business remains steady even in the troubled economy.
Devereaux, a former wedding consultant, started her business when she had her first son about 14 months ago and realized there wasn’t much out there to help new mothers get and remain organized.
“I couldn’t get a straight answer on what I needed,” she said. “I quickly figured it out by researching, and I started doing free consultations. It’s so overwhelming, and just the stresses in having a child … you don’t need anymore stress with a newborn.”
Devereaux isn’t alone in recognizing the economic viability of the baby products industry in this economy as well.
Last year, the National Independent Nursery Furniture Retailers’ Association, Inc., had a sold-out trade show, boasting 1,100 exhibitors of juvenile product industry stores and services. More than 300 of those exhibitors were first-timers, according to the representatives of the association.
As people try to cut down costs, baby “swap shops” or consignment shops are gaining in popularity, as well.
Susan Baustain, director of Once Upon A Child in Melbourne, Fla., said the company, which purchases gently used clothes and resells them, has seen high single-digit increases in sales over the last few years.
“When people are looking for a value, we’re being thought of even more than we have before,” she said. “We’re being thought of not only because of the value but because we’re at the forefront of recycling.”
The waste-not, want-not attitude of today’s consumers is what many baby consignment and resale stores thrive on. Swapping and exchanging at a lower price instead of paying more and buying new pays off in more ways than just saving money, according to Ruhling-Spilos.
“Our slogan is ‘Go Green. Go Consignment’,” she said. “It’s better to buy reused than new because you’re just going to fill up the landfills.”