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  • Sink or Swim?

    As human beings it’s important to know who we are and, more importantly, be true to ourselves. Let’s face it, people who are self directed and prepossessing—clear about their likes and dislikes, and their goals and aspirations—are compelling. If they are clear communicators to boot, that makes them even more attractive. Well, the same holds true for retailers. They must be true to their culture, strategy and brand identity, while allowing themselves enough flexibility to employ winning tactics against emerging trends so that they can anticipate consumers’ changing needs. But it certainly is a fine balance ... More

  • Of Outlets and Outages

    Welcome to the retail format du jour: outlets. If you’re getting a little taste of déjà vu here, it’s quite understandable. The rush for full-line stores—mostly from the department store world—to move into the outlet and off-price channel is a veritable feeding frenzy these days, capped off with the news that Macy’s will be the latest entrant into this world. Upscale stores like Nordstrom, Saks and Neiman have been playing this card for years. Macy’s sent its kid sister, Bloomingdale’s, out there first a few years ago to test the outlet waters ... More

  • In Praise of Knockoffs ...

    Webster’s dictionary describes it as, “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source.” Anyone who’s been in the housewares industry for more than a few years knows that if it weren’t for knockoffs a significant portion of many retail shelves would be empty. Few successful products go uncopied and even patent protection is only as powerful as a company’s financial and logistical ability to enforce it. And while I would not advocate copying the work of others as a business model ... More

  • Your Total Home and Housewares Resource

    It 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 ... More

  • Blah Blah Blah On the Retail Blahs

    So, 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 ... More

  • It’s Nice to Share . . . It’s Better to Be Shared

    We 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 ... More

  • 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