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PJ Kids daring to dream

PJ Kids unveiled its flagship Rooms to Dream store here last weekend, a 13,000-square-foot laboratory that the children's furniture and accessories supplier will use to test new product and, ultimately, create Rooms to Dream licensed stores or product galleries within larger furniture stores.

"Having a think tank of sorts is the perfect way to assure that we are providing the Rooms to Dream licensees with correct information and data," said Stewart Paul, president. "It provides the perfect showcase of what we expect from the licensee when they sign a Rooms to Dream contract."

There are currently two licensed Rooms to Dream stores, one in Corpus Christi, Texas, and one in Tulsa, Okla. The Cherry Hill location is the only corporately owned store.

Rooms to Dream galleries will be opening in May within two of Huffman Koos largest stores in Milford, Conn., and Hackensack, N.J., according to Vasso Unks, marketing director, PJ Kids and Rooms to Dream.

Kids Furniture Factory in suburban Chicago includes an 1,800-square-foot gallery as well, she said.

The company-owned flagship store will be a one-off, Unks said.

"So often manufacturers are creating product in a vacuum, so to be able to have conversations face to face with consumers — or even better, the children — that's paramount," she added.

The store and its offspring flesh out key product categories with lines from other vendors as well. In bedding, Rooms to Dream also carries merchandise from Brandy Danielle, California Kids and Fireside Comforts. PJ Kid's own furniture assortment is supplemented by goods from John Boy, Stanley and Vermont Precision. In all, the store buys product from more than 50 outside vendors. Those cross-pollinated product assortments are passed along to licensed stores and in-store galleries.

"We know that we can't do it all, and to create a retail story we needed to do something that was meaningful to every customer," Unks said.

The flagship store is divided into three broad areas: nursery, youth and teen/tween. As PJ Kids introduces new collections at market, it will move them into the stores. It will also use the store to incubate new concepts.

Said Paul, "Now when we sell the concept, we know exactly what we are talking about from image, design, aesthetics and financial obligation. We become more credible when we can say we have done it ourselves and we know what works."

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