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Retail Update

Susan Dickenson

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

  • West Elm Greensboro has lots 'in store'

    As West Elm opens its newest store in Greensboro this week, the retailer is enjoying a news blitz following the announcement of its entry into the hospitality arena, its new initiatives with Whole Foods and Casper Mattress, and the opening of three stores within the past month (Providence, Palm Springs and Baltimore). Yesterday, a piece ran in The New Yorker in which writer Amy Merrick spoke with West Elm president Jim Brett about his expansion into the hotel business, one of which will be located in Charlotte, N.C. Brett, who has been president for close to six years, said ... Read More
  • Casper Mattress is disrupting sleep

    Casper Mattress has gotten a lot of attention - and, apparently, customers - with a unique retail model for the bedroom: The company designed, engineered, markets, sells, and delivers a single "perfect" mattress. It's available in six sizes, at prices ranging from $500 to $950, and is compressed into a striped blue-and-white box for home delivery. Purchasers receive a 100-day free trial. If they don’t like the mattress, just call the company and they’ll come pick it up. Casper launched in April, 2014, sold a million dollars’ worth of product in its first 28 days, and last year reached ... Read More
  • Macy’s new non-app

    Macy’s is putting IBM’s Watson to work in its stores as a mobile “companion” to enhance shoppers’ in-store experience. The program, called “Macy’s On Call,” is piloting at 10 store locations across the country, and is capable of interacting with customers in English and Spanish. Upon entering the test stores, Macy’s customers will be encouraged to visit on their personal mobile devices to engage with the companion, which can do things like help navigate departments, brands and product categories, find a restroom, or place/pick up an online order. Each test location, therefore ... Read More
  • Lee Loves Local helps retailers give – and grow

    In 2014, Lee Industries launched “Lee Loves Local,” a marketing and community initiative designed to give support to its retail customers and the communities in which they conduct business. Most of Lee’s customers are small retailers who can play a significant role in the health of the towns they serve, the initial announcement stated. The success of the furniture retailer is intertwined with the success of the coffee shop, the clothing boutique, the hair salon and the body shop. Closed doors translate to lost wages, which means less money to support other businesses in the community. “We want this ... Read More
  • July is Independent Retailer Month

    Independent Retailer Month kicks off in July to celebrate independent retailers in local communities. Through in-store, online and community events and promotions, Independent Retailer Month encourages consumers to shop at independent brick and mortar retailers to increase foot traffic and to draw attention to the shops' positive social and economic impact. The event also encourages independent retailer associations, small business organizations and retail thought leaders to demonstrate the importance of independent retail to the local, national and global economy. Independent retailers are still welcome to join the campaign and access a range of free, downloadable marketing materials including posters, logo ... Read More
  • Pantone 448C is the world’s ugliest color?

    So say some. It's called Opaque Couché, and it's a brownish-greenish mix that's been described using words like sludge, filth, tar, and cow excrement. Pantone 448C first won its ugly title back in 2012, when a study by Australian research agency GfK Bluemoon was commissioned to help the country's government develop unappealing cigarette packaging to deter purchasers. The agency asked 1,000 adult smokers to look at a variety of colors, and 448C was selected as the most unappealing from a group that included such hues as lime green, beige, mustard and grey. According to one ... Read More
  • Creating a licensed collection: Prototype to payment

    Last month’s Retail Update column looked at some of the early steps in the licensing process – the “concept to contract” phase – and shared highlights from an interesting branding and licensing seminar that took place at the spring High Point Market with Glen Peloso, Jamie Alexander, Larry Laslo, Julia Buckingham and Steven Avitable. This month’s column focuses on what comes after – prototypes, production and, hopefully, payments – and picks up with Peloso’s question on the subject: Okay, so the drawings are done, the contract is signed. Who pays for the prototypes and how many "corrections" are usually required? Avitable ... Read More
  • Time to talk overtime - What do you think?

    As we all know, the Department of Labor this week finalized a rule to update employee overtime protections. The final rule takes effect Dec. 1, 2016 and doubles the salary threshold — from $23,660 to $47,476 per year — under which most salaried workers are guaranteed overtime. The salary threshold will be automatically updated every three years. The rule is one of the steps in the President’s “effort to grow and strengthen the middle class by raising Americans’ wages," according to a White House statement which goes on to say, "This extra income will not only mean a better ... Read More
  • Creating a licensed collection: Concept to contract

    You've got an idea, you've made some sketches, now you want to license it. Where do you start and what’s involved? At last month’s High Point Market, designers Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander and a panel of industry creatives discussed the topic during a seminar titled “Designer Branding: Making Your Brand a Collection.” Joined by branding consultant Steven Avitable and designers Larry Laslo and Julia Buckingham, the group shared tips, tales and tactics as they discussed the dos and don’ts of design and how to go from an idea to a furniture and accessories collection ... Read More
  • A glimpse at retail's colorful past

    Benjamin Moore is the lead sponsor for “Color in a New Light,” an exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., that explores the theme of color in the rare books and old trade catalogs of the Smithsonian Libraries. The exhibit, which runs through March 2017, also includes a virtual presentation online that begins in the 1600's with Isaac Newton’s studies on the color spectrum before delving into dyes, color psychology, camouflage, color blindness, and color in American cars, home décor and architecture. There’s a lot of fun content in here, with ... Read More
  • Turquoise Mountain showcases Afghan rugs, ceramics, woodworking

    This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting "Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan," a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum that showcases a project to revive Afghanistan’s cultural legacy following years of conflict and neglect. The multimedia exhibition includes “workshops” where artisans demonstrate their skills in jewelry making, woodworking, calligraphy, ceramics, carpet weaving and other crafts. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a beautiful and massive “Afghan History Rug” designed by Erbil Tezcan, who helped organize the exhibit’s carpet workshop. Tezcan, the founder and owner of Cedar Grove, N.J.-based Wool and Silk Rugs, discusses the project ... Read More
  • Earliest modern: A visit to Bauhaus, Weimar, Germany

    In 2019, the Bauhaus, the most influential school of 20th-century modern design, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding by Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany. It’s an institution with a colorful, controversial past — one that includes receiving both accolades and censure for its groundbreaking designs, creative culture and unconventionality. A year ago, while attending Ambiente in Frankfurt, I had the opportunity to visit the Bauhaus Museum in Weimar and I wrote a short piece about it, with a few photographs, for Design Today. This past weekend, my Facebook account shared that “Memory from 1 year ago today,” reminding ... Read More