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Home Alone 3

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

    You can add one more item to the long list of things the home textiles industry does contrary to the way most American — indeed global — businesses operate. Fifteen years ago the giant monopolistic entity known as “the mills” dominated the bedding and bath industry. Then, through a combination of greed, arrogance, insularity and just general lack of imagination, the mill structure started to unravel. When the quotas came off overseas supplies of sheets and towels in the early 2000s, the system totally disintegrated. In its wake came a largely fragmented network of smaller suppliers, many based in Asia but a ... Read More
  • Vacancies

    Usually when you put the words “retail” and “vacancy” in the same sentence you’re talking real estate, square feet and leasing directors. But not this time. While there’s certainly no shortage of empty space throughout the American retailing landscape it turns out that now the true vacancies that exist are in the corner offices at those very same retailing corporations. This year, more so than anytime in recent memory, you have a lot of jobs chasing not a lot of qualified people. JC Penney has been looking for a new ceo for over a year and while it ... Read More
  • Econ Recon

    It’s time to play connect the dots: • Family Dollar announces it will close 370 stores because they are underperforming as the retailer struggles to retain customers it gained during the Great Recession. • McDonald’s reports another quarter of disappointing sales at its U.S. locations as the retailer struggles to retain customers it’s gained during the Great Recession. • Proctor & Gamble says its Gillette brand will introduce a trade-up Fusion razor as it struggles to regain its premium product positioning lost during the Great Recession. The dots don’t lie. Whether anybody wants to admit it or not, the ... Read More
  • Dollar Sense

    Don’t take the recent news that Family Dollar is closing 370 stores as the death knell either for that individual retailer or the dollar store concept in general. It’s not that simple. It never is. First off, a retailer closing bad store locations is not exactly earth-shattering news. Walmart closes stores. Macy’s closes stores. Even Bed Bath & Beyond closes stores. Those 370 units, by the way, represent less than five percent of the company’s overall 8,100-store count. Lost in the headline about the Family Dollar closings was the fact that it was also planning to ... Read More
  • Of Kings and New Princes

    There used to be a Burger King up the block on Fifth Avenue not too far from the textiles showroom buildings in Midtown Manhattan. It is now a Panera Bread. Maybe it’s an isolated fast food moment, but maybe, just maybe, it’s a pretty good metaphor for the changing of the guard that is becoming increasingly clear, never more so than at the textiles and housewares shows last month. The Millennials are not only the new kids on the block, they are taking over the block when it comes to how various home industries create product, package, market ... Read More
  • The Clicking Point

    You’ll hear lots of conversations this market week about new products, old people and pretty much everything in between. Enjoy them for what they are, but the real talking point is going to be about the retailing industry crossing a seminal threshold. The real talking point is that the business model the industry has operated under for the past 100 years is finally coming to a close. Physical, brick-and-mortar stores (steel and plastic, to be more accurate), as we know them, are on an inevitable and irreversible decline. No, we’re not talking about online replacing instore or even ... Read More
  • The Next Not Thing

    Well, it’s that time of year again. The time when everyone walks around at shows and says there’s nothing really new this season. At the housewares show this week in Chicago (and later in the month at textiles in New York) you will no doubt hear reasonably sane and semi-smart people lamenting the lack of big new product trends. To which I gladly respond: Is this your first rodeo? How many shows have we all been to where we said nothing was new, only for the latest, greatest thing to show up on retail shelves six months later ... Read More
  • Home Tech Home

    If there was ever a moment for the home furnishings industry to take its turn in the technical spotlight this is it.Coming out of the huge Consumer Electronic Show last month, the talk was no longer about hi-def, 3D or how big your screen was.Instead everyone was talking about wearable tech and the Internet of Things.... two trends that play perfectly into the hands of the home textiles and housewares industries.The wearable tech talk had to do with devices you could put on your body - on your wrists, your head or various points in between - that would ... Read More
  • The Haves and the Have-Nots

    If you mentioned the phrase "supply chain management" to most people a decade or two ago, they would have told you it had to do with S&M or something along those lines.But these days, everyone knows the term...even if not everybody gets how important it has become to running a successful business.Let's face it, most suppliers can come up with a pretty nicely designed product and even more will match just about any price a retailer throws at them just to get the business.But it's the execution of getting those products from the ... Read More
  • The SHOW from the Fair

    Now that I'm finally over my jetlag, it seemed like a good time to share some thoughts, observations and otherwise pithy comments on this year's Heimtextil, the world's biggest home textiles show held earlier this month in Frankfurt.To do so, I need to pull out one of my old reliable market barometers: The SHOW Index.For those of you unfamiliar with this trusted, incredibly reliable and otherwise infallible business tool, let me explain. Over the many years attending this fair, I've discovered that by closely observing the hosiery and legwear choices made by female attendees ... Read More
  • 14 ... or So Things To Watch in '14

    What would a new year be without stray strands of tinsel around the house or the ubiquitous forecast on things that may happen over the next 12 months?Far be it for me to disappoint you on the latter, though I have little control over the former. The only thing is that 14 is a lot of predictions to make, the odds really go down when you approach this kind of volume in the forecasting department. Even weathermen cut it off at seven.So, in no particular order and with a respect for limited expectations, here are ... well, a bunch ... Read More
  • Retail Twerking

    So, what's the takeaway from Holiday 2013?If you have to ask, you probably haven't been paying attention. Everyone always talks before the fact about how the coming Christmas shopping season is going to be the most promotional ever and how terrible that is and how retailers need to buck up and find another way to do business.And then everyone goes out and promotes the hell out of the next four weeks. That's what we experienced this year, and while there's no realistic way to gauge how 2013 compares to previous years, it's hard ... Read More