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Home Alone 3

Warren Shoulberg, editorial director for HTT, always seems to have something to say about things.
  • A House is Not a Home

    The biggest migration movement in decades is happening right under the noses of the home furnishings business … and it’s not pretty. We’ve all heard the anecdotal stories about the neighbors next door or your brother’s kids in Ohio. But some new research makes the quantitative statement clearly: college graduates and other younger twenty-somethings are increasingly moving back into — or never leaving in the first place — their parents’ homes. A new study from the Pew Research Center shows fewer young adults choosing to start households than at any time in recent memory — even compared to the depths of ... Read More
  • The Clawback Redemption

    Leave it to the financial business to come up with new ways to describe old situations. The latest one I’ve heard is the”clawback.” Maybe you were familiar with it, but this one really hadn’t been on my radar until recently. Clawbacks grew out of the financial meltdown of 2007-2008 and they were basically provisions that if Wall Street types had made a boatload of money on deals that eventually went bad they were required to give back – have clawed back – some of those earnings. I’m still not exactly sure who was in charge of determining the ... Read More
  • High Drama at the Low End

    Don’t look now but the bottom end of the home textiles market is in play. With the demise of Anna’s Linens, consolidation in the dollar store channel, the continued expansion of Aldi and the entry of H&M and Zara into the home business we are in the midst of some serious upheaval down on the low end of the retail hierarchy. And while the prices are low and the margins slim, don’t ever forget the fact that this is a huge business up for grabs. If we accept the premise that the marketplace is becoming truly ... Read More
  • The Sadness of Anna’s

    The news from Anna’s Linens on Friday was absolutely saddening. Nobody thought its demise would be this quick or this sudden. Many people, including myself, had hoped the company would come out of bankruptcy and live to see another day. We hoped it could straighten out its balance sheet and get back on solid financial footing. And many hoped it would do it with the present management involved in one way or another. But it didn’t turn out that way. I happen to like Alan Gladstone and the Gladstone family. I know some people have different opinions and ... Read More
  • Customer Depreciation Days

    It looks like some stores are finally starting to get it. After nearly a decade when it was all about taking salespeople — and that’s what they are, not associates, not team members, not unicorns — off the retail selling floor, or even worse, replacing seasoned workers with employees who acted like they were on prison-work-release programs, some stores are finally starting to get it. The depths of this former movement were reached during the early 2000s when Circuit City — how quickly we forget — decided it could save money by firing its best, most productive and experienced salespeople, replacing them with ... Read More
  • The Coach Catch

    So, Macy’s is the latest big-time “legit” retailer to get into the outlet business, announcing earlier this month it would launch the first four of what will eventually be a larger chain of Macy’s Backstage stores. Not many details on size, location or merchandise content, but one has to assume they will follow the pattern set by its brethren in the department store world. Neiman’s, Nordstrom and Saks have all gotten into this racket, at first opening stores somewhat off the beaten track and more recently putting them pretty much wherever there are shoppers. Following that, Macy ... Read More
  • Two Years … and Not Counting

    As much as some people hope problems will go away if you don’t pay attention to them and time goes by, that’s not always the way things work. Last month marked two years since the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh when more than 1,100 workers in a multi-story textiles factory facility died when the building collapsed because of unsafe conditions. And while the companies in the building were in the apparel business and there were no home textiles producers located in Rana Plaza, the incident raised the whole issue of safe product sourcing across many industries around ... Read More
  • Parallel universe

    There’s little dispute that the New York textiles market is the center of the industry and the most important twice-a-year event on the show calendar when it comes to home textiles. But having just returned from the High Point Market I have to tell you there is something going on outside of New York and if you play in this space, you need to consider a wider view. In High Point – which as everyone knows is focused around furniture – there is more textiles life than you probably think. Yes, it’s the better bedding lines that appeal to independent ... Read More
  • De-Merchandising

    The recent change at the top of Saks Fifth Avenue — high-profile merchant Marigay McKee out, low-profile operator Marc Metrick in — is only the latest example of the ongoing de-merchandising of American retailing. Virtually every single new retail ceo that has been put on the job over the past few years has come out of operations, finance, logistics or some combination of the three. This has been the case in big national chains as well as specialty operations, in general merchandise, apparel and most non-durable stores. Think about it: JCPenney, Target, Gap and now Saks all made the same personnel choices ... Read More
  • March Madness

    While most of the rest of the semi-same world is focused on what’s really important this month — the college basketball playoffs — those of us in the good old home textiles industry will once more square off in that delightful exercise known as New York market week. It’s what we do. But in the spirit of competition, let’s get our brackets set for this sporting event where full-court presses, man-to-man defenses, picks and an inordinate amount of fouls are all part of the game. The Same Old Customers vs. New Prospects. A lot of vendors will complain there ... Read More
  • Oh ... Canada

    Like most people who think the United States and America are the same and that the place north of us is … well, that place, my understanding of the particulars of Canada are somewhat vague and largely uninformed. Nothing personal, mind you. I’ve rarely met a Canadian I didn’t like and I’m quite fond of their comedians, hockey players and bacon. But when it comes to understanding why business in Canada is not necessarily the same as business in the United States I’m as ignorant as the next guy … especially if the next guy works at 1000 ... Read More
  • Changing of the Guard

    The end of one era and the beginning of another is not usually so readily apparent at the time it all happens. It’s not like a calendar where you turn the page from one year to another and you can neatly mark the occasion. But over the past few weeks we’ve seen just that happen at both the Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s divisions of Macy’s corporate. Yes, Terry Lundgren still runs the show overall and Tony Spring is now entering his second year over Bloomies, but one layer down there have been some pretty serious changes ... Read More