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Blonder bounds into bath segment

Cecile Corral, Michele SanFilippo -- Home Textiles Today, August 25, 2003

After spending the past 85 years working to perfect its wall coverings business, Blonder Home Accents is for the first time adding bath products to its line.

The new endeavor is aimed at enhancing the company's core offerings of wallpaper and wall borders with coordinated looks in other categories, including bath rugs, shower curtains and bath accessories.

"We've found over time that consumers are more and more looking for total decorated looks," said Tricia Steiskal, marketing manager. "We're adding different items to our line to accomplish that."

Blonder's bath product offerings are broad, including varied constructions and price points intended to suit most retailers from mass merchants through department stores.

Already, the company has "spot previewed" the new line to some existing retail partners, including catalogs and craft, specialty and independent gift stores, said Brian Murphy, vp of sales and marketing.

"We're trying to improve samples and fast-track production," he continued. "Reception has been wonderful so far."

The feedback on the goods has encouraged Blonder to look into expanding into more home textile product categories in the future through licensed partnerships. Springs Industries recently became Blonder's first bedding licensee for a tropical palm design.

"We would like to expand our licensing programs for our designs for other home textiles suppliers," Murphy said.

For the bath products launch in September, during the New York Home Textiles Market, Blonder will offer 22 collections. The bulk, 14, are comprised of 13 pieces each and feature the company's top-selling designs, including lodge, juvenile, novelty, traditional and folk looks. The 13 pieces are: a 15-foot spool wall border, soap dish, toothbrush holder, lotion pump, tumbler, tissue box holder, wastebasket, shower curtain, shower curtain hooks, picture frame, light switch plate, night light and bath rug.

The other 8 groupings are smaller, comprising five pieces — soap dish, tumbler, lotion pump, toothbrush holder and cotton jar — and feature new designs, including tropical and metallic looks.

All of the bath products are imported from China and India.

Suggested retail price points average $10.99 for a resin soap dish, $29.99 for a duck cloth shower curtain, $18.99 for a 100 percent cotton hand-tufted bath rug and $39.99 for a resin wastebasket.

Aside from resin, other constructions for bath accessories include ceramic and a glass and metal combinations. Rugs also are available in cotton blends and nylon. And shower curtains also come in vinyl for the juvenile looks.

Blonder Home Fashions will be showing its bath products at Le Marquis Hotel during the New York market.

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