The WCSC's efforts ultimately affected the design of new window treatment products and helped set industry standards with the November 1996 approval of a safety standard for corded products issued by the American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI) and sponsored by the Window Covering Manufacturers Association, Inc. (WCMA) designated ANSI/WCMA A100.1-1996.
The end result has been a more educated and safety-conscious consumer.
The consumer today is looking for more than just a light-controlling horizontal blind. In a recent survey, consumers polled ranked safety as a primary concern in the purchase of window coverings, followed by aesthetics, ease of use and quality. At the same time, consumers also now view window treatments as an integral element in a room's decor. This dual view presents a challenge to the manufacturer and the window coverings retailer-but it's also an opportunity.
The window coverings retailer first must be educated on the hazards associated with typical horizontal blinds or other corded products and the ANSI/WCMA standards. Copies may be obtained for $12 from WCSC (355 Lexington, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10017;  661-4261.) The dealer should become a knowledgeable safety consultant to the consumer-answering questions and assuring them on the safety status of various products.
Along with addressing the safety standards now implemented by most major manufacturers, the dealer also should question the consumer about existing window treatments. Safety concerns extend throughout the house, and existing corded window treatments can be brought up to safety standards with retrofit kits that either replace corded loops with individual tassel cords or use anchoring devices to keep cords taut and out of the reach of children.
If the dealer does not have a safety retrofit kit, the consumer still can contact the WCSC direct at (800) 506-4636. WCSC will supply, free of charge, horizontal blind tassels and tie-down devices.
In addition to implementing safety standards on all existing products, window treatment manufacturers have begun to address the safety issue head-on with product innovations. Levolor Home Fashions, High Point, NC, for example, has brought to market the Levolor Cordless Blind, the newest addition to the company's horizontal product line, which totally eliminates lift cords. Not only are these blinds safe for children and pets, but offer a wide selection of colors, light control and high-quality components to satisfy all of the consumer's demands.
Levolor Home Fashions is the recipient of the 1998 Safety Innovation of the Year Award from the WCMA and a NeoCon Gold Award 1998.
Let the Buyer Know
To effectively communicate the benefits of safe window coverings products, RoseMarie Pulaski, Levolor director of retail merchandising, recommends the dealer effectively merchandise these innovative products with one or more of the following:
• An in-store display with a working sample of the product for consumers to test.
• Hang tags identifying safety features and describing the purpose of the safety devices.
• Counter cards to notify or remind customers about safety features at check out.
• Color sample decks to illustrate that safe products are aesthetically pleasing and can coordinate with any decor.
• Sell sheets listing the products' features and benefits.
Sponsored by Levolor Home Fashions.