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It's all about presentation

Random notes from wanderings across the retail landscape…

It's a fascinating time to shop the world of home textiles retail stores and departments.

What better time than when the long-awaited national launch of Donna Karan Home is rolling out. And what a difference in presentation and emphasis. Many involved in the launch report that the merchandise is selling extremely well. And these results come from a less-than-awesome rollout of the physical presentation — due in part to lateness in construction.

The walls of stores are not made of elastic, and the shops for Donna's stuff had to be shoehorned into existing departments with some other items losing space and still others disappearing completely.

But still the overall impact of the presentation, with few exceptions, has not produced the WOW factor that one would expect from a collection of this caliber. Among the exceptions in presentation are Burdines at Dadeland and Macy's West.

Once again, signage and references to products available in other areas were the elements most often lacking. How is one to guess that a gorgeous bed might also have accessories or bath products as companions? We're looking forward to seeing the others in a completed state.

Similarly, the dual rollout of Nautica Home at both Linens 'N Things and Bed Bath & Beyond has produced some wide variables in presentation.

Unfortunately, neither of these powerhouse retailers put all their potential muscle behind the first real design program they have marketed.

Neither of these retailers used the Nautica brand to communicate the broad coordination and/or product availability within the stores.

Overall, a tour including stores in Chicagoland, Atlanta, Miami and Dallas, as well as the New York metro area, showed that Bed Bath was a tad ahead in terms of creating impact for bed and bath. LNT hung the shower curtains with other shower curtains, and in a number of stores, the bath products hadn't arrived. And, surprise, LNT also had a selection of tabletop, found only in that department.

Hopefully, as these retail giants become more adroit in making the most of multi-product programs, they will give the department stores a run for their money.

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