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Retailers tout whats in store for college kids


Forget picture frames and posters, the key to home decor for young peopleisstorage. Retailers are taking that to heart in product selection, styling and how they promote online. Lifestyle considerations are increasingly prompting consumers to build kids’ and dorm rooms around storage, and retailers are becoming more creative in pitching in to help.

The Container Store recently rolled out its back-to-school promotions, including an entrance display showcasing brightly colored binders, locker racks and media pouches. Also included was a folding toilet kit in pink, white and yellow stripes, clearly designed to have the utility to hold anything from pencils and paper to makeup, and to have the ability to be stored away readily. But, with a hanging strap, the kit has an alternative use as a room-brightening decorative element.

“When students move into a dorm room, they have a limited amount of space to work with,” said Container Store spokeswoman Olescia Anderson. “We want to help them utilize the space as best they can, even if it’s vertical space, and be able to store CDs or paper or socks or whatever, and still have it outside of [the] closet or out in [the] open. It’s just an easy way to store things…and still have the room look nice.”

On its home page, the Container Store asks visitors, “What’s your dorm room organizational style?” and has a click-through that includes a three-stop process that helps college students set up their living spaces. They can do so by selecting from six key product areas: walls and doors, closet, desk, laundry, bath and storage; or by clicking on a lifestyle: fashionista, calm, cool & collected, rock ‘n’ roll, the sports fan and flower child.

“We have the six personalities for a room and it’s something that fits for everybody,” said Anderson. “When students move into these small spaces, they still want to shop so [that] they can express their personalities and differences.”

IKEA, which has been a big advocate of storage as decor, particularly for young people, is also making a statement online. Its Web site includes a prominent back-to-school element with the banner “IKEA Back to College” and the declaration: “Let your dorm room be your dream room.”

Collegians who click-through are treated to entire rooms tricked out in IKEA furniture and, prominently, storage/decor items that can be clicked on for product details. The site also has a download featuring young people appearing in and emerging from IKEA products, including under-the-bed storage drawers, all to an a cappella soundtrack.

Not to be outdone, Bed Bath & Beyond has made “Shop for College,” a major category on its site. In addition to product and lifestyle designations designed to help students get oriented, the site has also offered a college registry that allows friends and family to contribute to a student’s living requirements.

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