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Reinvention.

This seems to be the new buzzword for the business community in 2002. Remember "proactive" and "at the end of the day" and on and on with all those platitudinous gems from whatever biz school introduces the buzzword of the year?

Actually, reinvention is not so bad as the buzzword for this year — and especially so in terms of the home textiles world.

With the demise of so many home textiles manufacturers and the rush to source off-shore by retailers, reinvention is a key element of each player's — or side's — future.

Basically, reinvention harks back to what the late Stanley Marcus continually warned both manufacturers and retailers about — not looking outside of themselves and moving forward with new ways of doing things.

We're seeing what the big guys like Penney and Sears are doing from a variety of directions — merchandising, marketing and even eliminating certain businesses from their portfolios.

We're seeing what May Co. is doing, for better or worse, in attempting to become a dominant player in the bridal market.

And of course, everyone is wondering how Kmart will reinvent itself — or if it can, as it attempts to emerge from Chapter 11.

We've seen Kohl's surge from its quiet Midwestern roots to a dynamic retail leader. But questions are surfacing about how it will reinvent itself when enough of its competitors get the hang of being a Kohl's.

And of course, there's the leader of the pack, Wal-Mart, which seems to be able to tweak and twist its formula ever so slightly at the right time, essentially reinventing pieces of itself on a constant basis.

On the supplier side nowadays those previously referred to as manufacturers are a combination of manufacturer and supplier or sourcer/marketer, and this is the biggest reinvention of all. And one that will profoundly impact how home textiles are sold in this country.

It will take some time before the marketplace sifts through all the changes, understands who needs to participate and how to bring the new player lineup together.

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