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  • Making History

    The 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 ... More

  • Bare Minimums

    It 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 ... More

  • Kool to be Kold?

    It may be getting warmer outside but in the world of small appliances it’s about to get Kold, really Kold. Keurig Green Mountain is expected to unveil its Keurig Kold beverage system this month at a private analyst meeting with a retail rollout planned for this fall. The cold beverage system from the undisputed king of single-serve coffee will be one of the most closely watched introductions of the year. The new system is a departure from existing soda makers, which use C02 canisters for carbonation. To reflect its technological differentiation it’s likely Keurig will use the term ... More

  • Blog: It’s All About that Bulb: LED Filament Bulbs Mix Old with New

    Bulbrite LEDThe spotlight on the light bulb has been turned on—and up—over the last few years, as incandescents have been phased out and other bulb types filled the void. Open, airy fixtures that highlighted—instead of hid—the bulb became popular and, with the return of vintage, nostalgic looks, so did the rise of the early electric, filament-based bulbs. More

  • The Educated Consumer

    The 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 ... More

  • Blog: Small + Small = Big for The Grommet

    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 ... More

  • What a Crock (Pot)

    Way 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 ... More

  • The Ghost of Christmas Future

    Permit me, if you will, to do a little time travel and take you on a small trip into the future ... 365 days to be exact.Welcome to New Years Day 2016.We've all made it through another holiday shopping season and while there was the usual tinsel and general merriment, the retail landscape of the home business sure went through a bunch of changes compared to the year before. Some were predictable, but some were pretty much surprises totally out of left field.Omnichannel becomes Everychannel. The online/in-store playing field got about as level as we've ... More

  • Four Takeaways From Black Friday Advertising

    In addition to drawing consumers to stores with eye popping deals, Black Friday ads can also be instructive for those looking to track key housewares market developments, providing insight into pending price repositioning of key products as well as highlighting the emergence of new categories and brands. This year's crop of housewares ads was no different, providing a snapshot of what's hot, what's not and offering a glimpse of what you might see heading down the road in 2015. Here are some insights from this year's ads:Euro-Pro Ascendant: Euro-Pro's Ninja and Shark brands were ... More

  • Blog: Happy Holidays from Amazon

    Like getting a pink slip during the holidays or a lump of coal in the stocking, retailers must be feeling that Amazon is giving them a not-so-fine present this season as the nation's largest online retailer announced today that it is testing a one-hour delivery service in Manhattan.Called Prime Now, the service promises to deliver tens of thousands of items including paper towels, shampoo, books, toys and batteries delivered right to the customer's door in an hour or less. Amazon said that Prime Now--exclusive to its Prime Members (who pay annual membership fees of $99 a year ... More

  • Blog: Ma Lauded, Lampert Dissed

    HANOVER, N.H.-This year's list of best and worst CEOs has come out, with Jack Ma of Alibaba finishing on the positive side and Eddie Lampert of Sears Holdings among the negatives.The two lists are provided each year by Sydney Finkelstein, professor of management at Dartmouth University's Tuck School of Business and author of "Think Again: Why Good Leaders Made Bad Decisions and How to Keep It from Happening to You." According to a statement from the Tuck School, Finkelstein has studied business failures and leaders' mistakes for more than 20 years.Ma was cited as ... More

  • Physical Graffiti

    There's a big reason why the Internet has come along and so easily taken 10 - maybe 20 - percent of overall retail sales in many individual product categories, including a whole bunch in home.Because traditional in-store retailers let them.You can offer all sorts of reasons why online has been so successful and why many people predict it will account for as much as a third of all retail sales by the end of the decade.But the real reason is the one nobody wants to talk about: if physical stores had been doing a better job of retailing ... More