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Storage out of the closet.

NEW YORK -- The bedroom and closet are often the first places a homeowner looks to invest in home organization products, especially those that store and organize clothing and accessories.

"Closet storage is still the largest category for storage products, period," said Craig Moeller, Closetmaid. "There's an average of 6.1 closets per home, multiplied by 100 million homes. That's close to 610 million closets."

Although installed wire organizing systems are essential to clothing organization, new products in plastic, soft-sided and corrugated are taking storage out of the closet.

Clothing storage vendors and retailers are emphasizing the use of wasted space under the bed and offering sturdy plastic storage items that do double duty as a bedside table, dresser or end-of-bed chest.

Homeowners are becoming more knowledgeable about making the most of their space.

"Consumers are becoming more sophisticated with their closets," said Gil Foltz, vice president of sales and marketing for Schulte. "As consumers have been through their second and third walk-in closets, they're realizing they can customize and really utilize their space."

"People are realizing they can do a lot outside the closet that can be presentable, appealing and functional at the same time," said Lisa Swartz, district manager of Totally Organized, a Minneapolis-based specialty retailer. "They're not afraid that everything has to be behind closed doors."

For instance, Swartz said consumers are investing in free-standing wardrobe closets and racks, and stacked drawers that also can serve as a night stand.

Lee/Rowan, Organize-It-All and Whitmor all make canvas armoires and wardrobes that are designed to be attractive enough to be put in plain view as furniture pieces in bedrooms.

Sterilite also gears its stacking drawers to work as both storage and furniture, said Kevin Sweeney, marketing manager of Sterilite. "They are used alongside a bed or in a nursery almost more than they're used in a closet," he reported.

"Drawers are really strong right now," said Jim Sellors, business team manager at Rubbermaid. "It's probably the hottest category [in plastic organization] after jumbo storage." Rubbermaid introduced two- and three-drawer chests last January.

Stackable, modular items are a growing trend, said Glenn Hogle, director of marketing for Neatnix Organizers. "People can add on as they need it, and it creates return traffic in the store," he commented.

Several suppliers see opportunity in the under-bed area of the storage category.

"Under-the-bed storage has been really strong for us," confirmed Brad Boderman, senior buyer for Totally Organized. "We're starting to see more products introduced in the marketplace, especially more durable plastic items with features like wheels."

Color, too, has been adding excitement to the category. Translucents, bright colors and denim all generate interest on the retail shelves, say industry players.

"You can bring fun to the storage category with colors and different looks," said Bart Plaumann, vice president of sales and marketing for Tamor. Totally Organized carries denim-colored garment rack covers and closet bags. "Denim is strong because it has a broad appeal," noted Boderman. "It's not skewed to men or women, old or young; it has a pretty utilitarian reach."

Dave Griffith, senior vice president of marketing at Whitmor, sees neutral colors as the strongest sellers in closet storage.

"Everyone's bedroom is a different color scheme; that's why you see a lot of natural canvas or nylon," he said.

Jim Zellner, vice president of sales and marketing for The E-Z-Do Co. also sees continuing interest in dark greens and navy blues.

Bedroom/Closet Trends

Using organizers outside the closet

Clear or translucent plastics

Cedar or potpourri scented compartments

Trendy colors, like denim, bright translucents

New, breathable polypropylene for soft-sided storage
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Title Annotation:organizing products
Author:Goldbogen, Jessica
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Apr 21, 1997
Words:600
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