There’s Something About Martha
As opening arguments began last week in Macy's lawsuit against Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and JCPenney, associates in JCP stores were already setting up portions of the new home department that was originally to be anchored by a 20,000-square-foot Martha Stewart shop-in-shop.
Through a variety of newspaper reports on both projects, a few details have come to light.
For the time being, it appears Martha Stewart's name at JCP will be confined to rugs, window coverings, paper party products and a collection of food mixes, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Much of the Martha-designed product that won't carry her brand thanks to the lawsuit will be labeled Everyday - an echo of the Everyday by Martha Stewart brand formerly carried by Kmart as an exclusive. This includes bedding, bath and kitchen.
The New York Daily News quoted Macy's lawyer as saying that the department store had been kept "completely in the dark" about the plans for Stewart shops at JCP, which Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia once contended counts as a "Martha Stewart store" and therefore exempt from the exclusive arrangement with Macy's.
No so, said Macy's lawyer. "It all boils down to one thing - carpentry. On that rests billions in sales."
Other news accounts report Macy's lawyer arguing the retailer had essentially rescued the brand, elevating it from down market Kmart (where, it must be noted, the brand did $1 billion in annual retail sales) at a time when Stewart had recently completed her prison sentence for obstruction of justice.
Not so fast, argued Stewart's attorney. "That would be like Macy's taking credit for Thanksgiving because they sponsor the parade every year," he said, according to the Daily News.
Stewart's team also said the brand at Macy's hits its minimums but failed to meet the projections Macy's had originally set out, according to Bloomberg News. In addition, MSLO has accused Macy's of pricing Stewart products in a way that makes its own private label merchandise more appealing.
"It hasn't been a knock-it-out-of-the-park success," Stewart's attorney told the court, per Bloomberg.
The trial is slated to run through March 8. In the meantime, a who's who of current and former executives from Macy's, JCP and MSLO have been added to the witness list - including JCP ceo Ron Johnson, Macy's chairman/president/ceo Terry Lundgren and Stewart herself.
Fasten your seatbelts and pass the popcorn.