Home Alone 3

Warren Shoulberg, editorial director for HTT, always seems to have something to say about things.
  • The Guten, The Bad & The Ugly

    Just flew back from Heimtextil…and boy are my sheets and towels tired. As anyone who has visited the world’s largest textiles show knows, the fair is gargantuan in size, overwhelming in scale and limitless in opportunity. It’s just sorting all of that out that is the tough part. So, some off-the-schnitzel observations as the overall show is still being digested: The Guten: If you need an overall reality check on the state of the global home textiles business, this is the only place to be. And generally, that state is OK. Cotton and raw materials prices remain ... Read More
  • Taking Inventory… of Inventory

    Out of all the big changes that will impact this business this year — Trump, global economics, cotton prices, a fearlessly fickle consumer — there is one that both stands out in its importance yet is underestimated in its significance. We’re talking about inventory: inventory management, cash flow based on inventory, physical resources needed for inventory and the entire matter of keeping the right amount of goods in the right places at the right times. For much of the recent history of home textiles suppliers, inventory management was a pretty cut-and-dried issue: load up a container in Asia and ship it ... Read More
  • Ode to Holiday Mumbo-Jumbo Retail Reports

    As the sun sets on the holiday shopping season – though we have still have yet one more week of post-Christmas sales, close-outs, coupons, gift card redemption and returns to go – let’s remember 2016 as the end of an era. People who make their living examining the tea leaves at the bottom of store shopping bags are about to be put out of their jobs, their functionality largely moot at this point. Chalk this up to one more incident of online selling changing all the rules of retailing. In this case, it marks the end of any real meaning to ... Read More
  • Presents of Mine

    Well, well, well. If you had said the last time we went holiday shopping together a year ago that we would be looking at a President Trump, a disintegrating European Union and populist uprisings around the world from the Philippines to Italy, I would have said you were hitting the eggnog a little heavy. But here we are, in a world where all those things are happening and those in the little old world of sheets and towels have to find a way to make a living in it. Thank heavens we have the holiday season to take our minds ... Read More
  • The Turkey Trot

    No one’s ever going to accuse retailing of being the same-old/same-old. There’s always something new going on when it comes to how stores do business. Case in point: retail plans for Thanksgiving. They are most certainly an ever-changing – and largely inconsistent – state of affairs. It was maybe only about five years ago when retailers initially jumped the gun on Black Friday and started to open earlier. It began with midnight openings, spread to evening hours and then eventually crept into a virtual all-day affair for many stores. Another sacred cow slaughtered by the retail gods. While a ... Read More
  • The Business You’ve Chosen

    This home textiles business we find ourselves in has some pretty peculiar characteristics, not the least of which is the overwhelming market share held by less than a dozen big box national retailers. The industry pretty much lives and dies based on how these guys perform. More recently, that top-heavy distribution model has come under a big-time assault from online, which has thrown everybody into a digital tizzy. That’s rightfully so, but lost in all of this is the fact that there are several other very legitimate threats to the status quo of the soft home business and if ... Read More
  • We ain’t dead yet

    Looks like us Baby Boomers are not going to go silently into the night. While every marketing company on earth is obsessed with those dreaded Millennials – and I’m not saying they shouldn’t be paying attention to this demographic, now the largest bulge in the American population – all of us ever-aging Boomers remain a formidable constituency in the pursuit of conspicuous consumption. As proof, I point you in the direction of the desert near Palm Springs, Calif., and the recently concluded Desert Trip music festival. On the site of the legendary Coachella event – where Boomer kids and grandkids go ... Read More
  • What I Learned at Textiles Market

    Now that all of the towels have been folded, the beds remade and all those gazillions of pillows, quilts and rugs put back in their proper places, it seems only appropriate for a New York Home Fashions Market week download: • Business Ain’t Easy. While the whining was generally kept to a minimum, when you asked, you got pretty much the same answer about business being soft. And why not: you’ve got at least half of the biggest retailers in the category — Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Sears and Kmart — basically reporting flat sales. • Vendors Are ... Read More
  • Fibers, Fables and the Frug

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Three buyers walk into a home textiles market. One is a seasoned veteran who has seen everything. One is a newbie who doesn’t really know percale from a percolator. The third thought she was at the fashion accessories show but got lost and ended up at 295. And all of them have suddenly discovered that maybe they should be asking more questions about exactly what it is they are going to be buying this week. In the wonderful world of sheets and towels, the particulars on those sheets and towels have ... Read More
  • Reverse Textilology

    A funny thing happened on the way to the home textiles industry circa Market Week fall 2016: it went backwards. Think about it. While virtually every other industrial sector of American business was getting more concentrated, more consolidated, balling up into ever larger, more sophisticated pieces, the U.S. home textiles business was doing the exact opposite. Where there once only a handful of powerful suppliers of the core products of the business — in the end, just three — now there are many…perhaps hundreds. There was a time, and it wasn’t all that long ago, when power in the ... Read More
  • Truth in Textiles

    The global home textiles industry is rapidly – and very suddenly – coming to grips with the idea that it needs to look before it leaps. With reports of a big retailer – Target – cancelling its business with a large global supplier – and pulling the products from its shelves – because what was inside the package didn’t match the labeling, there is now real debate about making sure customers are getting what they are being told they are getting. For those in the global home textiles industry, this does not come as a shock, even if the particulars of who got caught – Welspun ... Read More
  • New Business…New Business Models

    Remember the old days when if you were a factory in Asia all you had to do was to be able to manufacture textiles product inexpensively and find a way to efficiently get them from your loading dock to retailers and importers around the world. Ah, those were indeed the good old days. As the textiles world gathers in China next week for Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles the road to global success is very different. Just being a low-cost producer with a good logistics department isn’t enough anymore. Many things have changed, but as it has with just about ... Read More