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Opinions

HFN editors have years of experience covering products and retail for housewares, tabletop, floor covering, furniture and textiles. They share their opinions here.
  • Your Total Home and Housewares Resource

    Maureen AzzatoIt is a privilege to join the team of such an iconic business-to-business brand as HFN. In the month I have been on the job, it has been so gratifying to hear from and speak to readers and clients who have such a strong affinity to HFN, and who rely on it so fully for their on-trend business decisions across the home and housewares categories. We thank you for your readership and trust, and we plan to build on that wonderful legacy in the future. There are few media brands that have been around as long as HFN (we will ... Read More
  • Blah Blah Blah On the Retail Blahs

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORSo, The Gap is closing 175 stores. Radio Shack closed more than half its thousands of locations. Anna’s Linens is liquidating. Dollar stores, office supply stores...the list goes on and on. And at the end of every list is the kicker: America has too many stores, we’re overstored and the Internet is going to kill brick-and-mortar. Well, try telling that to Uniqlo, H&M, Zara, Amazon, Warby Parker—and more retail start-ups than you can imagine—that America has too many stores. America has too many stores that don’t work anymore, aren’t in touch with ... Read More
  • It’s Nice to Share . . . It’s Better to Be Shared

    Bill McLoughlinWe live in an age of digital communication and reaching consumers on their laptops, tablets and cell phones has never been more critical. Housewares marketers looking to navigate this digital maze must recognize that the rules of the game have changed. Traditional advertising methods and messages don’t apply. The Internet user is a content consumer. Whether it’s information on a potential purchase, news or quirky videos, digital devotees devour content. The term “sharing economy” has emerged in recent years to define the use of technology to facilitate the sharing of goods and services, much like Uber’s ride ... Read More
  • The Great Retail Disconnect

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORBuried in all the financial doubletalk and heavy-handed retailspeak of the most recent earnings reports from big stores and even bigger mall operators, there was an absolutely fascinating dichotomy that says an awful lot about the state of retailing in America today. Big store after big store reported that they had relatively disappointing first quarters largely because traffic was off in their stores and they couldn’t get enough bodies through the front door. Some pulled out the old weather yarn about a harsh winter impacting things and of course that was beyond their control. No doubt the winter of ... Read More
  • The First Housewares Commandment: It Shall Work!

    Bill McLoughlinI’ve been in the housewares business long enough that I’ve seen the trend pendulum traverse its inevitable arc between fashion and function; design and utility; aesthetics and performance, many a time. And while there are always products that embody both, or those that sell well when the pendulum appears to have swung in the opposite direction, I feel the need to sound a warning as we head toward the latest swing in the direction of “design.” I use the term in quotes specifically to reference an emerging movement to employ design principles to create housewares as “art.” Increasingly ... Read More
  • 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