The retail chain recently mailed 250,000 copies of its first FAO Baby catalog and posted the collection -- which includes everything from a pint-size leather chair to chenille bedding -- on its e-commerce site (faoschwarz.com).
FAO Baby began as a boutique that opened last year in FAO's flagship New York store. By the end of this month, several other FAO flagship stores in Chicago, Las Vegas and San Francisco also will be outfitted with an FAO Baby boutique.
"FAO has had a great baby department and toys, but the market to explore is gifts for babies," said David Niggli, chief operating officer and director of merchandising at the specialty toy store. "The birth of a child is a major event. Someone could give an heirloom gift like a rocking horse or a great leather chair -- a gift they will grow into."
FROM $18 TO $6,000
FAO Baby adds new products to FAO's usual selection of toys, with furniture such as a cowboy-theme high chair and accessories like a leather baby carrier. Price points range from $18 for a stuffed teddy bear to $6,000 for a mahogany rocking horse.
"I think what you've found over the last couple of years is people really want their children's room to have a great look to it," Mr. Niggli said. "There hasn't been a lot of children's decor in a long time."
Several catalogers, such as LL Bean and Land's End, have long had separate books or sections devoted to children. Other marketers such as Pottery Barn have more recently launched catalogs to target the children's market.
UNIQUE, NOT PRACTICAL
"Retailers and catalogers are trying to capitalize on selling to someone who wants to buy a gift that is going to be special and unique and not as practical," said Rhonda Cohen, chief creative officer at AGA Catalog Marketing & Design.
Katie Muldoon, president of catalog consultancy Muldoon & Baer, attributed the rise of children's catalogs to the strong economy.
"It seems that everything I've read is that parents are spending more on their children," Ms. Muldoon said. "We're having fewer children but spending more on them."