This year's annual International Pool Spa Patio Expo November 2-8, in New Orleans, was aptly themed "The Backyard Experience," further reinforcing the importance of outdoor family living to today's consumers. Not only did the show offer countless in-ground and above-ground pools, spas, hot tubs, saunas and casual furniture but also an almost limitless and creative variety of toys, games for every age, barbecue grills, firepots, fireplaces, fountains and fire and water decorative combination — the latter perfect for savvy gift and home décor retailers to consider.
As outdoor living assumes an increasingly important role with consumers where their backyards are concerned, exhibitors at this show were displaying limitless possibilities for gift and home décor retailers, especially where the elusive men's gifts are a factor.
With show officials reporting a 30 percent increase in display space this year, further proof that complete year-round practical family outdoor living has become a basic part of consumers' lifestyles, not a fleeting trend.
Just as the recent Casual Furniture Show, furniture/home décor shows in High Point and Las Vegas, even the annual New York City International Toy Fair promoted this theme, the true family fully-accessorized center from pool, spa, patio areas to barbecuing, outdoor cooking and entertaining, games, all emphasized that today's backyard can not only reflect individual home décor tastes but provide enjoyment to capture the attention of every age and every pricepoint.
Pool and lawn toys and games like basketball and volleyball offered the best in family fun. Same for in-pool exercising and fitness regimens; frisbies that squirt water on people or dogs who capture them and sleek bar stools equally at home in-pool or anywhere in the backyard, deck or patio.
Perking up the backyard pool is a decorative cinch with round vinyl bottom-of-the-pool colorful mats in a variety of interesting graphic designs. Plush toys, especially in wildlife and goofy characters epitomized fun poolside possibilities for infants to teenagers, as did colorful pool floats for up to four people.
As the growth in outdoor living points to long-term consumer interest, several exhibitors were highlighting the potential for almost year-round use of backyards even in areas where winters are a problem by showing practical and stylish fire pits, fire tables and infrared patio heaters, with built-in lighting.
For the truly adventurous, tiki huts were on display, certain to excite gift retailers who can envision the accessories potential this backyard look could suggest to their customers.
Swim Way's Disney pool ring (swimways.com)
Float Storage's backpack (floatstorage.com)
Melissa & Doug's Suspend game (MelissaAndDoug.com)
Poolmaster's Hole-y Cow Island (poolmaster.com)