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HFN editors have years of experience covering products and retail for housewares, tabletop, floor covering, furniture and textiles. They share their opinions here.
  • Making History

    Duke RatliffThe home furnishings business has lots of long-time vendors with plenty of history. A week barely goes by that HFN doesn’t receive a press release from a vendor announcing a significant anniversary. Older companies often play up their heritages as an important part of their marketing strategies. Usually, the storied companies are known for more traditional styles and designs. Recently, some of home furnishings’ most long-running, traditional brands have taken distinct diversions from their normally traditional paths. It’s no coincidence that the tabletop category is leading the way with companies that are breaking away from the past, at ... Read More
  • Bare Minimums

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORIt was a taboo subject when unemployment was high and people felt they were fortunate just to have a job. That was a long stretch, even longer for workers who didn’t keep up with inflation and gas prices, much less get a raise. But over the past year that’s all changed and with employment numbers back at solid levels, the concept of paying people more this year than last has taken hold across a broad spectrum of American business. Nowhere more so than in retailing, where perhaps at least one in ten American jobs are located. The numbers ... Read More
  • Best Intentions

    Duke RatliffStraight from the No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Department, Starbucks received tons of press—mostly bad—for its Race Together campaign last month. The gourmet coffee pioneer/potentate had its employees write “Race Together” on its coffee cups. This, Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz said, would facilitate a much-needed discussion on race. The Race Together campaign, which obviously came with the best intentions, can be seen as a perfect example of how a corporate entity should NOT dip its toe into the complicated waters of social issues. On the surface, the timing seemed right for a major company to make an ... Read More
  • MIA

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORAlert the FBI. Contact Scotland Yard. Hire Magnum, Kojak and the NCIS boys. The home business has lost nearly $40 billion in sales over the past decade and it has absolutely no idea where it went. OK, math was never my strong suit (in fact, I’m not sure exactly what is, but that’s another conversation for another day) but when you run some numbers on the declining business fortunes of three of the largest sellers of home furnishings products over the past ten years, you don’t need to be a mathematician to figure it out. Since 2005 ... Read More
  • Blog: New York Threads

    David GillNEW YORK-Yesterday at the New York Home Fashions Market produced a number of introductions that, vendors hope, will whet the appetites of the visiting retail buying groups. This week, Protect-A-Bed is spotlighting the Rem-Fit brand, its technology-based line of active lifestyle pillow protectors and sheets ... Revman is launching the Pineda Covalin collection of bedding, which consists of the Talavera, Dream Catcher, Hikuri and Flor Tehuana ensembles, and which derives its styles from traditional Mexican designs ... Pendleton Woolen Mills is underscoring its National Park Service license and looking ahead to the 100th anniversaries of both the service and its Glacier ... Read More
  • Blog: Raise a Glass to World Water Day 2015

    Andrea LilloNEW YORK-Sunday, March 22, is World Water Day, a U.N.-designated day to bring awareness to the many people worldwide who suffer from water-related issues. Several vendors—and one beer company—offer home products that support water charities. Italian housewares company Bialetti expanded its charity-focused Illuminate line at this month’s International Home + Housewares Show to include a yellow sauté pan that supports the nonprofit charity: water. The 10-inch pan has a white, ceramic nonstick coating; 10 percent of sales go to the nonprofit organization. Belgium beer company Stella Artois has partnered with Water.org and Boelter Brands ... Read More
  • Home in Transition

    Duke RatliffThings are changing for the home furnishings business. You can feel it in the air. Of course the industry is constantly evolving, but numerous macro trends are coming together, creating a quick-moving transition like no time since the Great Recession. Status quos change quickly when things are in transition. Thankfully, this time around the change appears to be for the better. In the home furnishings business, the consumer is king—and the king appears to be feeling pretty good these days. According to The Conference Board, consumer confidence is now at its highest level since August 2007. Consumers, the Conference ... Read More
  • Store Wars ... Still

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORIt’s been one hell of a year at retail. As the industry gathers this month for big trade shows in housewares and textiles, the tendency may be for people to say “Here we go again,” “Same old, same old,” “Been there, done that.” And of course those tendencies would once again be misguided, uninformed and just plain dumb. Because over the course of the past 12 months we’ve seen some major and profound differences in the retail structure of the home and housewares field, resulting in a substantially altered landscape for this month’s shows. If you don ... Read More
  • Here’s to Housewares

    Duke RatliffAs promised at the beginning of the year, HFN is renewing its commitment to the always dynamic housewares category. Put simply, HFN readers will see more and better housewares coverage. And the proof is in the pudding–or publication—as the case may be. This is the first-ever, HFN Housewares Show Preview. In this special issue, readers will find exclusive information on how to confidently prepare for next month’s Chicago show. The core of this issue is The Consumer Speaks, our exclusive research study featuring the results of a survey of more than 700 shoppers nationwide. Read here about ... Read More
  • The Educated Consumer

    Duke RatliffThe now-defunct, New Jersey-based Syms clothing store had an unusual, but memorable tagline: “An educated consumer is our best customer.” The off-pricer’s message was that smart consumers would recognize the bargains they could find at Syms. Interestingly, and perhaps ironically, educated consumers might not be the best customers for home furnishings in the foreseeable future. This fact is not due to these customers’ intelligence level. Rather, it’s because most educated, young consumers have paid—and are still paying—for their education. As has been well documented, millennials were hit hard by the Great Recession. Statistics show that a ... Read More
  • Blog: Small + Small = Big for The Grommet

    Allison Zisko There's been a bit of a love fest going on during the winter gift show circuit, I'm told, between small, independent retailers and the small manufacturers represented on The Grommet's new wholesale platform. The Grommet is a web-based product launch hub that enables small or just-getting-started entrepreneurs (often called "makers") to sell their goods directly to consumers, and, more recently, to retailers. It's where "the little guy meets the little guy," explained Joanne Domeniconi, who founded The Grommet in 2008 with Jules Pieri. The Grommet focuses on under-represented entrepreneurs, and pays special attention to people under ... Read More
  • What a Crock (Pot)

    Duke RatliffWay back in the early '90s when HFN was called HFD, I traveled to visit small appliance manufacturers in the Kansas City area.I met with top executives from three companies: Rival, maker of the famous Crock-Pot slow cooker; Toastmaster, credited with the first automatic pop-up bread toaster; and Dazey, which specialized in appliances such as apple peelers and skillets.Looking back on it, the trip serves as a reminder that the world of home furnishings is constantly evolving. Yet while everything changes, some products, if managed and marketed correctly, can stay fresh and relevant.My Kansas City trip would ... Read More