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Retail Update

Susan Dickenson

Susan Dickenson, Retail Editor, Home Accents Today, @susandickenson

  • 3-D reality hits 'home'

    Several new augmented reality/3-D concepts may make it easier to shop for home furnishings. A company called Vizera Labs has applied smart projection technology and 3-D modeling to upholstery — more specifically, fabric selection. Vizera’s patented technology and tablet interface enables “real-time, in-store upholstery projections on actual furniture.” Shoppers use a tablet to tap-select different fabrics and textures, project those selections on furniture pieces to see how the furniture and fabric combinations work in color and scale, and adjust illumination to view the effects of different lighting. Vizera’s technology is already in use in several U.S. stores ... Read More
  • Furniture funnies

    Need a quick laugh? Check out some of these new commercial gems from Ikea, American Signature and Haverty's.  In this video spot, just out from Ikea, Chief Design Guru Jorgen Eghammer talks about a device "so simple and intuitive, using it feels almost familiar" It's the 2015 Ikea catalog. No wires, no cables, eternal battery life, and 328 high definition pages... Password protection is voice activated: "Excuse me, that's mine." Experience the new... BOOKBOOK: This next spot is from a new campaign by American Signature Inc. and is one of the commercials that resulted from ASI's ... Read More
  • 101-yr-old Hy Goldman in his 73rd year at Capitol Lighting

    Hy Goldman has been working at Capitol Lighting for 73 years. Yes, that's right - 73 years. This week he celebrated his 101st birthday, and now the media is celebrating him. James Lent of the Hanover (N.J.) Eagle reported Hy's story Monday. CBS picked it up Tuesday, and last night it was David Letterman's turn to have some fun ("...so old he has a 301K") -- the Letterman video clip is posted on Capitol Lighting's Facebook page. As Lent reported, Goldman began working for the company on June 1, 1941 when he was 28. He drives himself ... Read More
  • The ultimate photo bomb

    I just got blown away -- by a silver, bombshell-shaped punch bowl. What makes it really special is that it replicates the British "bombs bursting in air" that exploded above Fort McHenry on a September night in 1814, thus inspiring Francis Scott Key to write "Defense of Fort McHenry," later renamed "Star-Spangled Banner." The silver punch bowl was presented to U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead in 1816 by the citizens of Baltimore, in appreciation for his heroic efforts in defending the fort (and thus, Baltimore harbor) against British bombardment. According to the Smithsonian, "after the battle, a committee of ... Read More
  • Home is hot!

    For the first time ever, home retailers hold two of the top five spots on the 2014 Hot 100 Retailers list, just published in the National Retail Federation’s STORES magazine. The annual list, compiled by Kantar Retail, ranks the top public and private companies (with domestic sales in excess of $300 million) that reported the greatest increase in sales between 2012 and 2013. Wayfair.com landed this year’s No. 2 spot with a sales increase of 52.5%, a hefty jump from last year’s No. 18 ranking (at 16% growth). Texas-based Conn’s HomePlus took the No ... Read More
  • Retailers find second chances in secondhands

    Last month, an article in the Wall Street Journal suggested there’s no longer a market for secondhand furniture and “heirloom” furnishings. (“Why the Market for Heirloom and Secondhand Furniture Has Disappeared,” July 1, 2014). Speaking to WSJ reporter Alina Dizik on the subject, industry analyst Jerry Epperson said the availability of cheaper imports has driven down the cost of furniture about 50% (adjusted for inflation) over the past 30 years, sending traditional secondhand furniture shoppers to stores like Ikea, Wal-Mart and Target. Other analysts and commentators attribute the blame to household downsizing, aging baby boomers shedding their aging stuff ... Read More
  • Welcome, Belk Home Store

    A new Belk Home Store opened today in Greensboro, of special interest to me for a couple of reasons: the store was built new from the ground up as a stand-alone presentation of Belk’s home brands and products, and it is within walking distance of my home in Greensboro. The new 29,000-sq.-ft. Belk Home Store is across the street from Belk’s existing Friendly Center location, which is being renovated and will celebrate its grand re-opening October 15. In all, it’s a $9.2 million project for the Charlotte, N.C.-based retailer, the nation’s ... Read More
  • Relevant rewards reap loyalty

    When it comes to rewarding our best customers and, conversely, expecting a little something extra for being loyal to a brand or store, the United States is a "highly developed loyalty market." That's according to the results of an extensive 2013 study by Maritz Loyalty Marketing, a loyalty program services provider based in Toronto. On average, American consumers are members of 7.4 loyalty programs, with the retail sector having the highest penetration at 1.7 programs, followed by bank credit card programs at 1.3, airline programs at 1.1, hotels at 1.0, co-branded credit cards at ... Read More
  • Stellar retail, then and now

    A lot has happened in the 10 years since May of 2005 when Home Accents Today presented its first Retail Stars list, honoring independent brick-and-mortar retailers. Our 2005 Retail Stars nomination form didn’t have a section for social media, nor did it offer Las Vegas as an option in the “tradeshows” box, since neither of those existed. We did ask for a “Web Address,” though, something 10 of our 2005 retailers left blank. By all appearances, the 2005 Retail Stars appeared to be quite solid businesses, with only 12 stores reporting prior year sales of less than $1 million ... Read More
  • Twitter's Jack Dorsey gets talkative

    Jack Dorsey, co-founder of the 140-character text messaging platform Twitter, says he’s “a man of very few words and fewer characters.” He also says he’s on a mission to make commerce easy and accessible for everyone, everywhere. As such, Dorsey’s been doing a lot of talking lately, as moderator of a national “Let’s Talk” campaign that brings together neighborhood business owners and mobile merchants in communities across the country. Let’s Talk was launched last year by Square, Dorsey’s e-commerce invention that includes Square Reader, a payments processor that accept credit cards on a mobile ... Read More
  • Tour a cargo container retail park

    Las Vegas' new Downtown Container Park, a colorful, quirky collection of about three dozen shops and restaurants housed in shipping containers, is the subject of my "Retail Ideas" story in the April 2014 national issue of Home Accents Today. While attending the January Las Vegas Market, my friend Christi Reeves Tasker, a resident of Las Vegas, agreed to take me on a quick tour of some of the city's retail spots. The tour ended with a stop at the Container Park on East Fremont Street, one of the coolest retail concepts I have ever seen. I was especially interested ... Read More
  • 'Bundling' to boost the brand

      The National Retail Federation’s annual conference is called Retail’s BIG Show for a reason: It’s REALLY big. I came away from the show, held in January at New York’s Javits Convention Center, with a bag full of notes, business cards, flash drives and scannable marketing materials -- and a lot of ideas I’ll be sharing in Home Accents Today pages and online in the coming months. Going in, I was curious to see what the new retail buzzword would be. Last year, it was “omnichannel.” This year, it was more about the concept of “bundling” — merging ... Read More