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Home Alone 3

Warren Shoulberg, editorial director for HTT, always seems to have something to say about things.
  • Truth in Textiles

    Liar, liar, sheets on fire. Let’s face it, complete honesty and transparency has never been a hallmark of the overall home textiles industry. The folks who make and sell sheets and towels have been making up euphemisms for their products for generations. Down alternative? Cotton rich? 160-count percale? Billion thread count? The packaging archives are full of products that while they weren’t exactly mislabeled or misrepresented didn’t excel at giving shoppers the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And in fairness, home textiles is no different from lots of other consumer products or other ... Read More
  • Omni-oblivious

    To the news that Victoria’s Secret is going to be scaling back – perhaps even eliminating – its print catalog going forward, all one can say is they must have their underwear on too tight over there. While the rest of the retail world is embracing the omnichannel strategy – be anywhere and everywhere your customer wants to connect with you and be able to sell them accordingly – the VS folks seem to have decided the cost of printing and mailing all of those catalogs is just too expensive. Well, so are electricity in the stores, web programmer salaries and the ships ... Read More
  • What a Wonderful FIT

    There was a time when I looked at those speed bumps on 27th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues on Manhattan’s West Side as just an annoying hindrance to getting across town. Then I got to know FIT. This year the Home Products Development department at the Fashion Institute of Technology celebrates the 20th anniversary of the admittance of its first class. It is a wonderful celebration, as hopefully you will read about elsewhere in this issue. But as someone who has been involved in the program since …well, since before the beginning, this milestone is particularly meaningful. Before ... Read More
  • Eyes on March

    It isn’t every year that the New York home textiles market week falls during one of the most infamous dates in history, when a Senate even more dysfunctional than the one we have now decided to off the leader of the country. That doesn’t happen anymore, the ambushes are strictly political these days. Which isn’t to say there still isn’t much to beware of during the semi-annual gathering of buyers and sellers this week. But there are also many things to be aware of as well. Beware the crumbling retailers out there. Sears and Kmart continue ... Read More
  • Not Fade Away

    Reports of the death of conventional retailing continue to be greatly exaggerated. Yes, the retailing industry is going through a period of change that is unprecedented in the long history of people selling things to other people. It is more dramatic than the creation of the modern department store in the first part of the 20th century, bigger than the emergence of the discounter in the second half of that century and more impactful than the rise of the category killer specialty chains 25 years ago. Those were all major turning points for the business of retail, but they pale ... Read More
  • Have it Their Way

    Every time our little home textiles industry complained about price erosion and the race to the bottom, I usually suggested that people look at the fast food business if they wanted to really put things into context. From the land of McDonald’s, Burger King and their flame-broiled brethren, the Dollar Menus became both the driving force and the dreaded curse of the business. Particularly during the Great Recession aftermath, these bargain-priced deals sustained their businesses and allowed them to maintain their existences in light of enormous price resistance to higher priced choices. Sound familiar? Having created this monster, the ... Read More
  • Sweet..and Sour 16

    What a crazy start to the new retail year, right? Just when you thought you knew who the good guys were — and weren’t — 2016 starts off with a bizarro series of reports and news that seem to put the entire retailing landscape upside down. Consider: • Walmart says it will close hundreds of stores around the world, including a sizeable bunch here in the good old U.S. of A. The Boys from Bentonville open stores, they don’t close them. • JCPenney, of all people, says it had a pretty good Christmas. Granted, it is still recovering from the Johnson ... Read More
  • What’s Really Happening Behind the Wal

    Walmart is closing some stores. There’s an old journalistic rule about “not burying the lead,” which means don’t put the most important piece of information deep into the story but always place it first. So, theoretically I’ve not broken that rule…but in fact I have. The big news is not that Walmart is closing some stores. The big news is that it’s not that big a deal. Earlier this month, The Big W announced it would be closing 269 stores around the world, including 154 in the United States. At first glance, that does sound ... Read More
  • Season of the Living Dead

    After all the tinsel has been disposed of, the sale signs and coupons run through the shredders and the returns delegated to the back rooms of hell, there is one thing that will have come out of the Christmas shopping season of 2015. Any retailer that tries to pin its entire holiday merchandising strategy around price — and price alone — will be doomed to ultimate failure. The amount of promotional pricing activity — driven by the usual desperation compounded by unusually warm weather — reached record insane levels never seen before. Given recent Decembers, that’s a pretty powerful statement onto itself. Consumers ... Read More
  • Flash in the Pan

    As retailing formats go, the Flash Sale model may go down as one of the fastest ones ever to go from brilliant start to flaming finish. Not that this form of retailing is gone. There are still many players in the space, but they are rapidly mutating into other genres, other creatures of merchandising that are six or seven degrees of separation from where they started. The recent cutbacks at One Kings Lane, the pending possible sale of Gilt to Hudson Bay for far less than the company was valued at not too long ago and the general falling off ... Read More
  • Presents of Mine

    Ah, another year has passed and it’s that most wonderful time of the year again. No, not Christmas — my annual holiday shopping list for all the saints and sinners of the home textiles and retailing worlds. After all, we once again had our fair share of both the naughty and nice — with a decided lean toward the former — in this business. Maybe it’s an occupational hazard. After all, folding towels and touching all those chemically induced bedding ensembles — not to mention those 100% polyester sheets — has got to have an effect on your mental well-being. It was yet ... Read More
  • Santa-licious

    Who knew that the answer for all of an in-store retailer’s problems in competing against online was a fat guy in a red suit? Turns out that this season especially, more and more retailers are on to the fact that a real-life, living, breathing Santa Claus in their stores – or out in the mall – is a surefire way to drive traffic into physical stores. For generations big stores have decked the halls for the holiday selling season, trotting out lights and garland and tinsel on their selling floors, in their windows and all over the place. Santa himself was ... Read More