Seidman's Bulletin hits 50 years
February 4, 2002-- Home Textiles Today,
While the home textiles industry has endured successive transformations over the past five decades, there has been one thing executives could count on reliably — the weekly arrival of The Seidman News Bulletin. It launched in 1952 as The Wamsutta News Bulletin, when newsletter founder Seymour Seidman, a merchandise manager at the then-independent mill, decided textiles folk needed to pay more attention to the nitty-gritty shifts occurring at the retail level. Long since departed from the mill business, Seidman continues to deliver news about pricing, programs and the battle for shelf space in a distinctly staccato style that he to this day bats out on a typewriter.
"Sometimes I feel like the minister standing in front of the congregation saying 'You drink too much. You smoke too much,'" Seidman said with a chuckle. "But I think as long as the preacher still keeps showing up, there's some consistency there."
To mark the bulletin's 50th anniversary last month, Seidman included an "Extra," written tongue-in-cheek in full preacher mode. Its fictional dialogues serve as a state-of-the-union for an industry undergoing transformation yet again."You can't have the history of any industry without the written word," Seidman told Home Textiles Today. "It's been a lot of work for one man."
"We're shopping for a country," revealed Wal-Mart's chairman at its annual meeting.
"What do you mean?" asked a startled observer. "That you plan to open more stores abroad?"
"No, that phase is completed. We feel our next step is to acquire an independent country."
"Which nations are under consideration?"
"We're focusing on Spain. It would be a good fit with our Spanish-speaking base. Also Portugal, which would supply our knit and flannel bedding requirements."
"That seems reasonable," agreed the observer. "When will you make this acquisition?"
"We have one other bid out, our primary choice, and await their acceptance."
"What country would that be?"
"Well, what do you think?" beamed the Springs security chief as he showed the observer the newly completed wall around its Fort Mill headquarters.
"Note the moat that separates the buildings from main access roads," he pointed out. "Entry is only through gatehouses manned by ex-Marines."
"Certainly looks secure from unwelcome visitors," agreed the impressed observer. "What other precautions are you taking to keep out unwanted influences?"
"See the missile batteries of the roof. We actually had customers attempting to parachute messages to us from aircraft, but we were on high alert and chased them off."
"It's obvious you know your business," said the observer. "Now Springs people will have only each other to be involved with."
"That's our intent," exalted the mill official. "Did you notice the banner flying over our executive offices? It states our company motto: Hear not outside voices that may inform, thus you need not react to it."
"Parking space, $25. The attendant will collect the fee and hand you a receipt."
"I wasn't prepared for that," said the observer as he pulled into a Target parking lot. "When did you institute this charge?"
"We're always full up," replied the Target spokesman. "It's a modest fee to pay for the privilege of shopping with us."
"I also note," said the observer, "that you now also have a $25 charge for using the washroom. Isn't that reaching too far in obliging customers?"
"Certainly not," responded the indignant store representative. "Didn't you notice our Waverly signature motifs on the paper toweling and cups?"
"Forgive me," apologized the observer. "I should have understood this is part of your upscale image. Would you kindly direct me to a salesperson to help me with an exchange."
"Gladly, but that's now a $25 accommodation and bring quarters on your next visit," said the Target representative.
"Quarters, why would I need such coins?"
"We're installing turnstiles. You will need 20 to enter the store. Now, pardon me while I post these signs in all traffic areas."
"What is written on them?" asked the observer not sure what to expect next.
"Space for rent — $10,000 per square inch, all departments."