A 'million-to-one' shot

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, April 30, 2001

When looking over the "Hits and Misses" post-market feature that is a staple in Home Textiles Today's market coverage, it was disappointing to see how few of the few directional lines really scored.

One would think that retailers would be trying to break out of the mold — trying to look for some things new and exciting, some things different from what has been on their floors for eons and probably will be there for even more eons.

Even more disturbing is that the retailing community at large cannot seem to get its act together. On one level, they talk about newness, freshness, the need to communicate better with customers. And then they blow the whole proposition with another round of coupons of sale prices.

We're looking at a marketplace where any number of the key players are revisiting their core home textiles businesses. To go more fashion forward, to go more private label, to push for existing designer brands — or to abandon all of the above, are just some of the challenges.

We're also looking at a home textiles world that will be shrinking dramatically in terms of number of players by yearend — both from the supplier side and the retailer side.

And as that happens, we're also looking at retailers that are looking outside their supplier base — an admirable activity — but they also are putting these newcomers to the test.

The test is quite simple. Just tell someone who has been involved in developing a fashion-forward program that if you want to sell it to "you know who" there is a return "privilege" that lets the vendor accept unsold goods.

One wonders what the role of a buyer is today. Is it a person sitting in front of a computer screen hour after hour, day after day? Or is it someone who actually goes out into the market, looks at stuff, and goes beyond the core suppliers — and actually has a good time looking for the item or look that could change the face of the department?

SURPRISE! There may be a multi-million dollar item sitting quietly out there. I once found one.

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