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Target Just Stepped into Gender-Neutral Future With Kids’ Furniture That We Kinda Want Too

A race car bed. Frilly bedsheets. A basketball lamp. A mini vanity mirror. Our childhood rooms are basically gender norms incarnate, created for us while we’re still figuring out who we are — with Pottery Barn Kids and other furniture stores filling in the gaps. The notion of “boys’ rooms” and “girls’ rooms” are so ingrained in us it’s hard to shake the idea, even in our current, (semi)adult apartments. But Target has no problem shaking it up, debuting a new “kids’ home collection” that’s totally gender-neutral. “It was an aisle of pink, fairy princesses, ponies and flowers,” Julie Guggemos, Target’s senior vice president of design and product development, told the Star-Tribune, describing Target’s previous selection of kids’ bedroom products. “And for the boys it was rockets and dinosaurs. Well, you know what? Girls like rockets and basketball. And boys like ponies.” The new collection, cutely called Pillowfort, includes about 1,200 pieces of furniture, bedding and other adorable accessories. Some of the items tap into themes we would have previously thought gendered, like sheet sets printed with basketballs or hearts; other items are less obviously gendered to begin with, like the stuffed animals. Either way, none of it will be labeled or marketed toward a particular gender; instead, it’s all sold together — because who’s to say a little boy doesn’t want a gold unicorn lamp or a coral “Happy Place” pillow? Target has already proven itself to be on the forefront of the gender fluidity conversation when it ditched gendered advertising and signage for its non-apparel kids’ products. “In some departments like toys, home or entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary,” the company stated in a press release. “Right now, our teams are working across the store to identify areas where we can phase out gender-based signage to help strike a better balance,” including toys and bedding. Now Target’s creating products from scratch that ignore gender definitions from the outset. Also, it doesn’t hurt that all these Etsy-ready products are the kind...

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Furniture Rows Move to Toyota Eased by JGR Alliance

Jimmy Makar knows all about switching manufacturers. In 2008, Makar, the Senior Vice President of Racing Operations at Joe Gibbs Racing, helped guide the organization during its transition from Chevrolet to Toyota. With Furniture Row Racing making the change from Chevrolet to Toyota for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, a move that includes a technical alliance with JGR, Makar has a keen understanding of what lies ahead for the Denver, Colorado-based team. “I hate to say it’s easier,” Makar, crew chief at JGR for more than a decade, said, “but it is easier than it used to be.” The biggest issue for Makar and his group when JGR made the move involved the engine department, which at that time built and maintained engines for its Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series programs. While the organization continued to build its own engines through 2011, swapping from building the Chevrolet R-07 to the Toyota engine was time-consuming and costly. In 2012, JGR teams began using engines built by Toyota Racing Development, an arrangement that continues today. There will be no such problem for Furniture Row since the team doesn’t build its own engines. Previously, Earnhardt Childress Racing supplied the horsepower; now it will come from TRD. “The engine program is a huge undertaking if you have to change that,” Makar said. “The bodies aren’t nearly as big of a deal anymore, especially now with the way the rules are. You have to install different sheet metal but it’s basically the same, so that’s not as bad of a deal. “They’ve got their work cut out for them to do all that work, certainly. But the partnership that we’ve developed with them and what we’re doing for them will help a lot, too.” Furniture Row, owned by Barney Visser, has fielded Chevrolet-branded entries since 2005 when it debuted the No. 78 in a one-race effort with driver Jerry Robertson. It began competing full time in 2008 with Joe Nemechek. The team enters ’16 with 307 starts...

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