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  • Jennifer Marks

Seeking Our 'Snuggie’

Our market preview visits begin in earnest early this week, and I’m looking forward to seeing what everybody’s got cooking out there.

I’m expecting open price point and value proposition items to be ubiquitous. We’re probably going to see more organic and eco-friendly merchandise, though I’ll be surprised if it’s as front and center as it was during the past couple of markets.

Fashion? My fingers are crossed, but I am anticipating the emphasis will be on affordable fashion. And that’s OK, given the times.

Most of all, I hope the embattled members of the home textiles community wind up with a Snuggie-style success to carry them through to the other side of the economic abyss.

If you’ve been within sight of a television set within the past few months you’re familiar with Snuggie. “The blanket with sleeves,” heavily advertised on the tube around the holidays, is the kind of product I suppose you either think is genius or yet another gimmicky, el-cheapo TV product.

Turns out it’s both.

According to a story in last week’s Chicago Tribune, Allied Products Group has sold four million of them — or just under $80 million worth.

Company chief Scott Boilen acknowledged Snuggie isn’t the first of its kind, but suggested the combination of direct TV and a cheap price point ($19.99) made it a hit.

In fact, it’s more than a hit. It’s become something of a cult item among the young and hip. More than 2,300 people signed up to bar hop around Chicago in their Snuggies after a couple of locals put up a website called suggesting the idea. Since then, Snuggie lovers in 15 cities have launched similar events.

Retailers now carrying the Snuggie include Boscov’s, QVC, HSN, Amazon and Walgreens. I’d imagine there are scores of obscure, regional outlets stocking Snuggies as well. Heck, this could be the Big Mouth Billy Bass of home textiles.

Although the unglamorous Mr. Bass is no longer a star, he had a very sweet run. And let’s face it, right now there are a lot of companies around that desperately need a sweet run, however ephemeral.

So, as home textiles folk chase down missing shipments this week and scramble to put together showrooms, I offer this wish: May the force of Snuggie be with you.