In the garden tools section of the Home Depot in East Hanover, N.J., Richard Miller spotted a gas-powered weed trimmer for $100. Down another aisle, he found some black shutters for $22.19. And in another section of the store, a barbecue grill at $299 caught his eye.
He added the items to his gift registry list - not for his wedding, but for his birthday. And this comes after he had already registered at Home Depot - and received a bundle of gifts - for his housewarming party last April.
“I still need a few things that I didn’t get at the housewarming,” said Miller, 31, of Wantage, N.J. The registry, he said, “makes life easier for the person buying for you, because whatever they buy for you, they’re not wasting their money.”
For many years, the idea of gift registries - listing your most-wanted items at a store to help gift givers - was rooted solely in the world of sterling silver and weddings. But increasingly, people are registering for gifts for other events, including baby showers, graduations, bar mitzvahs, birthdays, Christmas and back to school.
Some people even registered at Crate and Barrel in Los Angeles to replace items lost in the 1994 earthquake.
“As people become busier, and time becomes more precious, the stigma of asking for a gift becomes less important,” said Linda Lee, group vice president of special services at Macy’s. “There’s an understood ethic that says, ‘We’re going to make it easy for you, and you’re going to make it easy for us.’ “
Bruce E. Thiebauth, president of Bridal Fair, which produces bridal trade shows around the nation, estimated that the nonbridal gift registry market had grown from almost nothing five years ago to perhaps $100 million a year now.
People in the industry say it is still probably only 1 percent to 5 percent of the size of the $7.5 billion annual bridal registry market, but that it is growing.
Here are some examples:
Macy’s, along with Burdine’s, Rich’s and other retailers owned by Federated Department Stores, started the Gift Registry Alliance in November, based on the idea that the term “bridal registry” was out of date. At Macy’s, the number of people registering for nonbridal events is five times what it was in November.
Home Depot started a bridal registry in 1992, then added more events based on demand. Now, 28 percent of its customers who register do so for events other than weddings - 23.8 percent for Mother’s Day alone.
Target stores started a baby registry called the Lullaby Club in November 1995. Customers can select items they want to register by using a scanner gun to record them in the computer. More than 140,000 people have signed up.
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