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Home Alone 3

Warren Shoulberg, editorial director for HTT, always seems to have something to say about things.
  • 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
  • Inside the Penalty Big Box

    The home textiles industry is watching its two biggest retailers deal with massive struggles to get their online businesses up to speed, and in their ability to be successful lies the potential future for the entire business. Walmart, the largest seller of home textiles products — hell, the largest seller of just about everything — has made no secret of its inability to compete successfully with Amazon. More than a decade after the company’s top management said it would be as dominant online as it was in-store, the retailer is admitting publicly it has failed and needs to devote massive amounts ... Read More
  • The December Surprise

    Christmas this year is going to be better than anybody expects…maybe much better. There, I’ve said it. The one thing they teach you in opinion-column writing school – I think weathermen take the same class – is never, ever make a forecast that you can be held accountable for. Predict things way out in the future when everyone reading will have long forgotten them…. or be dead. You can’t go wrong that way. But short-term predictions? Do not go anywhere near them. They are nothing but trouble. And while I’ve generally stuck to this adage and tried to ... Read More
  • The Cat is Alive

    If you’ve waited anxiously at the edge of your litter box for the answer to last month’s riddle about Schroedinger’s Cat — would it live or die — I’m here to give you the good news: The cat is alive and well … though it may have used up a couple of its nine lives in the process. In a nod to The Big Bang Theory, this physics theory was used to postulate about the unknowns facing New York Home Fashions Market Week. Would it be good or bad? Would the cat live or die? Well, it turned out ... Read More
  • Schroedinger’s Market

    Fans of “The Big Bang Theory” — and I guess quantum physicists — know the theory of Schroedinger’s Cat well: A cat and a radioactive material that will kill the cat are placed in a sealed box and until that box is opened you really don’t know if the cat is alive or dead. Well, I think that’s the way a lot of people are feeling about the New York textiles market this week. Until we finish up the market and open up the results, we really don’t know if this will have been a good market or ... Read More
  • Promo-a-go-go A no-go?

    The troops are getting restless again. In what seems to be a ritual that rears its precious little head every couple of years, a whole bunch of companies in the fashion and retailing business are trotting out speech number 47: We’re going to cut back on our promotional efforts. Over the past quarter or two, a number of public companies that have seen some rough numbers because they’ve been doing some pretty serious discounting say they are going to clean up their acts. They may be using different words, but these companies — including Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade and ... Read More
  • The Currency Currents

    As Intertextile Shanghai Home Textiles – the biggest home textiles trade fair in Asia -- opens this week, there will be one very hot new topic of conversation, in addition to the usual discussions about fashion, design and shipping logistics. With the recent devaluation of the Chinese yuan earlier this month, the dynamics of sourcing home textiles products out of China and everywhere else in Asia have taken a dramatic turn. Within the span of a few days, the cost of Chinese-made sheets, bedding, towels, rugs, curtains and fabrics have decreased versus what they were earlier this year. It’s big news ... Read More
  • 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