Home Alone 3

Warren Shoulberg, editorial director for HTT, always seems to have something to say about things.
  • Night of the Living Dead Shoppers

    I’d like to think it has to do with ethics, morality and being good to your fellow man…but who am I kidding. It’s just business. As physical retailers continue to cut back on their recent shop-till-you-drop-dead strategy of opening early, staying open and milking every last breath out of Black-and-Blue Thanksgiving Weekend, you might want to say they’re all just coming to their senses. But anyone in the business knows that retailers, for the most part, don’t have a lot of senses in the first place. (Let’s face it, if they did, they would ... Read More
  • See No Evil… or Maybe Not

    Arket. Remember that name as perhaps a seminal moment in the history of responsible retailing. Then again, a year or two from now we may not have a clue what in the world Arket was supposed to be. Arket is the newest brand offshoot from the folks at H&M, the fast fashion retailer that is doing its part to turn the apparel business upside down and taking its initial steps to do the same for the home business. The premise of Arket — I guess it’s a variation on the word “market” though it could mean something else entirely ... Read More
  • Channel Fever

    Looks like it’s happening again. Another big brand is moving from the upstairs world down to a lower level…while trying to maintain its better business. This time it’s happening in the apparel business, but everyone in home textiles can tell you stories about all the times this was done in the world of sheets and towels … and what happened. The latest twist involves Under Armour, the seemingly ubiquitous athleisure wear brand that if it didn’t invent the whole category of workout clothing as fashion certainly took it to much higher levels. The brand had for its ... Read More
  • The Usual Suspects

    Say what you want about the home textiles business but one thing remains a constant: the fundamental things apply. When you scan the charts and numbers and minutiae of this month’s Top 50 Retailing Giants report, you’ll see the top 10 stores in the business are pretty much the same top 10 that have been on this chart for years and years. But look beyond the footnotes and decimal points and you can see the future – and the past – of the industry: Certainly, you don’t need H&TT to tell you that online is where the growth ... Read More
  • Low Tech is Better than No Tech

    Remember the old industry joke about the greatest technological advancement in the history of the home textiles business? The fitted sheet. Well, maybe the punch line isn’t quite as fitted as it used to be as the industry slowly — but surely — starts to embrace the role of technology and innovations in its products. And just in the nick of time, it should be added. Since about the invention of the pillow, the home textiles industry has relied on two things to sell its products: price and fashion. Often times the purchasing pendulum has overwhelmingly swung in one direction or ... Read More
  • Target Practice

    So, Target is on a mission to reinvent the modern American discount store. It is clearly a work in progress. A visit to one of the retail giant’s just-remodeled stores in the Dallas metroplex – one of 28 of its 47 area stores that will eventually be updated at a cost of $220 million – revealed a nice looking mass merchant unit. However it doesn’t really move the bar much when it comes to the fine art of merchandising. This particular store, in Addison, just north of the Beltway that wraps around Dallas, clearly had a fresh coat of paint ... Read More
  • Self Awareness

    Don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a sucker for that punch line: “Be yourself…every one else is already taken.” Usually attributed to Oscar Wilde — though there is no written evidence he ever actually said or wrote it — it’s one of those catchy phrases that you can plug into various conversations and always get a smile from somebody. If only the world of retailing would pay attention. Business history is full of far too many examples of stores that tried to be who they were not — or worse, somebody who already existed — and failed miserably ... Read More
  • For Casper, the Target is in-store

    There are lots of fascinating things about online bedding resource Casper signing a deal with Target to begin selling its products at the discount retailer. You can debate back and forth about the branding strategy Casper is pursuing and whether selling at Target is a good fit. You can also ask if Target wants to be in the mattress business – although initially it is the sheets and bedding that the store will sell. And you can question how this new arrangement impacts Casper’s previous – and one assumes now ending – arrangement with West Elm to sell its products. But what ... Read More
  • The 43% Solution

    I would never sell Amazon. They don’t respect my pricing and I have to protect my regular retail accounts that don’t want me doing business with them. No Amazon for me.” Ah, they say everything in life is timing. If you heard a vendor say this in 2002, you’d probably agree with him. Amazon was still basically a book and video seller back then and represented a percentage point or two of general merchandise sales. As a home furnishings supplier, you were making the right decision by not selling them. Your business was with the stores. The ... Read More
  • Shopping Mauled

      The cacophony surrounding the pending doom of the great American shopping center is starting to reach epidemic proportions. Every pundit worth his weight in megabytes is out there preaching the end of this institution and forecasting a Wall-E world where we sit in big fat recliners, slurping from our sippy cups and hitting buy buttons like monkeys hooked on treat-response systems. Well, it ain’t going to happen exactly like that. Just as people predicted the end of American downtowns only to see them resurrected over the past decade as living (literally), breathing (figuratively), thriving (really) urban centers, shopping centers ... Read More
  • Help Wanted

    In their never-ending quest to stay relevant and keep up with the changing retail landscape, America’s top stores have brought on a number of new personnel over the past year. You may have missed the individual announcements so in the interest of public service, here is a summary of recent developments: Chief Extortion Officer: Several retailing organizations announced appointments in this department in an effort to extract more value from their supplier partners. Not to be confused with the CEO – chief executive officer – this new corner office title – shortened to CHEX – is in charge of finding new sources of ... Read More
  • Misinformation on 34th street

    Have you heard that the death of the American department store is imminent and that poor old Macy’s is about to be history? Have you heard the one about the three buyers who walk into a bar and…? Before anyone gets their planograms all bunched up in a wad, let’s do a little realty check. Maybe, just maybe, some of these reports are just stories chasing headlines. Fake news, anybody? 1. Like virtually every other retail business that gets the vast majority of its sales from physical stores, department stores – Macy’s included – are having a tough time ... Read More