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CONSUMERS GET THEIR CLOSETS IN ORDER; RETAILERS AND MANUFACTURERS FIND YEAR-ROUND SUCCESS WITH ORGANIZATION PRODUCTS.

NEW YORK-Finding a good time to clean out the closet is like finding a good time to do your taxes, but retailers and manufacturers are finding that there is an ever-growing number of consumers compelled to organize their closets at all times of the year, and for many different reasons.

The Container Store's Peggy Doughty, buyer for the closet, said that, although there is strong interest in organization year-round, spring still brings out the cleaning bug in many people.

"During spring cleaning, there is a trend to focus on the closet," said Doughty. There also seems to be many New Year's resolutions focused on closets, she added.

She said that consumers seem to begin with the closet in the master bedroom and work their way out. And once they begin, people seem to know what they want.

"People are looking for complete organizational space, no matter what the size," said Doughty, who added that, in the case of clothes closets, people look to "protect their investment."

Statistics gathered by Rubbermaid confirm the potential for growth in closet organization. Brian Kincaid, Rubbermaid's product manager for storage, said the company has found that there are approximately 500 million closets in the United States, and there is only about a 20 percent market penetration for closet storage items. The research also found that, when housing starts are factored in, there are between 5 million and 7 million new closets every year.

Kincaid added that most seasons of the year are popular for closet organization, but for different reasons. Summer is a big time, he said, due to the large number of people moving and organizing new homes. This phenomenon is being highlighted by the company's "America on the Move" ad campaign. In the spring and fall, consumers are caught up in their biannual cleaning and are changing their wardrobes from winter to summer or summer to winter. Kincaid said this changeover has an additional impact on under-bed storage units that are used for storing the out-of-season clothes.

At Jokari, the latter half of the year seems to be particularly strong.

"Back to school is a big time, along with the fourth quarter," said Freed Toll, vice president of sales at Jokari. Toll pointed to college students as a big factor in the back-to-school momentum. "They have no space [in dorms.]"

He added that, in the fourth quarter, consumers are gearing up for the holidays, trying to "stay ahead of the curve."

This nearly year-round organizational drive, however, is not contained in clothes closets. Pantries are getting attention as well. And no matter what the project, there seems to be an array of solutions, including Rubbermaid's storage totes, Elfa's closet systems, Jokari's over-the-door organizers, and Eagle's stackable wire platform racks.

Storage designer Yaffa Licari said that options are something consumers crave.

"People want versatility," said Licari, who designs Yaffa Blocks, storage boxes that can be combined to create bigger storage units. The blocks can be configured to create closets without the closet. "You can do whatever your heart desires. It creates an instant environment."

With distribution at such places as Linens 'n Things; Bed, Bath and Beyond; Wal-Mart; Kmart; and Organized Living, Licari has found that this variety of functions is something to which consumers respond.

"In this fast-paced world, people are asking for instant solutions," she added.
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Comment:CONSUMERS GET THEIR CLOSETS IN ORDER; RETAILERS AND MANUFACTURERS FIND YEAR-ROUND SUCCESS WITH ORGANIZATION PRODUCTS.
Author:Bryceland, Kristen
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 28, 1999
Words:554
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