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Retail Update

Susan Dickenson

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

  • U.S. retailer discusses the ins & outs of direct importing

    Thirteen years ago, Terrie Viets and Jane Clark opened Solari – Quintessentially Italian, a lifestyle store in the Cleveland suburb of Rocky River, Ohio. They had no retail experience and not a drop of Italian blood, but they shared a love of collecting - especially Italian ceramics - and an entrepreneurial vision.  Today, business is booming and Terrie, whom I met on the Italian Trade Agency’s Sicilian ceramics tour this summer, is not only a successful retailer, she’s an expert importer. After dinner one night in Caltagirone, a few questions about her business turned into a lot of questions about importing ... Read More
  • Parlore, new app and online marketplace for interior designers

    Parlore, a new software app and online marketplace for interior designers, made its live debut last month in Atlanta. Founder and CEO Stacey Osiecki brought Parlore staff members to Americasmart, where the team hosted five days of product demos, panel discussions and social events to showcase the offerings and functionality the app can provide to interior designers and product manufacturers. Half business tool and half wholesale market, Parlore runs on IOS devices, is available for free in Apple’s app store, and offers a companion iPhone app for on-the-go access. Osiecki’s motivation for developing Parlore is rooted in ... Read More
  • VIDEO: Sicily's City of Ceramics, a millennia of maiolica

    Two weeks ago I joined a group of U.S. retailers in Sicily for a tour of the ceramic artists and factories of Caltagirone, Italy's "City of Ceramics," where tin-glazed maiolica and terra cotta products have been produced for centuries. Sicily's unique cultural history (of Arab, Spanish, French, Roman and Greek influences) is evident throughout the city, reflected in Caltagirone's colorful ceramic tiles, art, housewares and architectural elements that incorporate both traditional styles and modern interpretations. The city's name is derived from Qal’at-al-ghiran, an Arabic word meaning "castle or fortress of the vases." The purpose ... Read More
  • Talkin 'bout my generation

    I was born in 1960 and am therefore a younger Baby Boomer — the group born from 1954 to 1965 that I’ve just learned is referred to as Generation Jones (see Alexa Boschini’s Generation Now report in the July, 2015 issue). Wikipedia says us Jonesers “were given huge expectations as children in the 1960s, and then confronted with a different reality as they came of age during a long period of mass unemployment and when de-industrialization arrived full force in the 1970s and 1980s, leaving them with a certain unrequited ‘Jonesing’ quality for the more prosperous days in the ... Read More
  • 140-yr-old Liberty of London appeals to 'the artistic shopper'

    Each May, Home Accents Today recognizes excellence in retailing by shining the spotlight on 50 brick-and-mortar retailers that sell home furnishings, as all or part of their merchandise offering - click here to see the 2015 Retail Stars list. It’s not about sales, but success – the strategies, creativity and personalities that attract customers and keep them coming back for more. I recently visited a store that, for close to a century and a half, has done retail so well it’s considered a national treasure in its home country of England: Liberty of London. Located on central London’s Regent ... Read More
  • Home Accents Today welcomes new Retail Advisory Board

    THIS MONTH, Home Accents Today welcomes its new Retail Advisory Board, a group of 11 multichannel and multidisciplined individuals spanning the brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, interior design, furniture store and franchise worlds of home décor and design. They, and the companies they represent, are respected, successful, award-winning names whose markets and reputations extend well beyond U.S. borders. We’re honored to present them here, in alphabetical order: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Wayfair’s senior director of category management, oversees the day-today management of the online retailer’s furniture and home décor business, responsible for overall strategy from a revenue, supplier management ... Read More
  • Nina Campbell debuts new home decor collections

    Nina Campbell was in High Point this week to give some “Oomph” to her new accents collection for the Connecticut-based company of the same name. The initial offering of high-gloss lacquered pieces features the names of her grandchildren: the Gerome console and table collection, the Enid desk and the Billy tray, along with a “What Not” etagere composed of two stacking side tables. It’s a beautiful blend of tradition, practicality, good taste and hipness, much like Nina herself. The not-to-be-missed collection (with more to come in the future) may be viewed in Historic Market Square, suite 200. Earlier in ... Read More
  • Brick is the New Black

    Despite the widely accepted notion that e-commerce is booming and will continue to do so, the strength of brick-and-mortar retail was a popular theme at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show earlier this year. Keynote speaker Alison Kenney Paul, vice chairman, U.S. retail and distribution leader for Deloitte LLP, told attendees at the January conference that 90% of U.S. retail sales still happen in a physical store. In his “Brick is the New Black” presentation, Balgit Dail, CEO of JDA Software, said 95% of all retail sales are captured by retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence. Paul and ... Read More
  • The 'just looking' dilemma

    The "I'm just looking" response to the “May I help you?” question has become so automated that many retail customers will mutter it simply upon hearing a “Welcome to our store!” or seeing a sales associate approach. Many times the customer truly does want a few minutes to browse and get used to the store before engaging with anyone. Let too much time elapse before a sales associate offers to be of service, though, and she will leave in a huff. Retail experts are all over the map when it comes to how much time should be allowed to ... Read More
  • Give Millennials some credit

    A recent consumer study found that when it comes to furniture and appliances, Millennials prefer to shop at retailers that offer financing options. It also found that they know more about their financing options than their parents and grandparents. Specifically, the study of more than 2,000 consumers found that 59% of shoppers between 18 and 34 say their choice of retailer is affected by whether that retailer offers financing options, and 32% of that consumer group are aware of second-look financing options (for consumers who are denied financing by a retailer’s primary provider), compared with just 13% of ... Read More
  • The redeeming qualities of smarter, greener gift cards

    For the eighth year in a row, gift cards are the most requested holiday gift item. An October National Retail Federation survey found that 60% of shoppers would rather receive a gift card over items like clothing (52%), electronics (35%) and jewelry (25%). Nationally, gift card use is growing at the rate of 6% a year, which translates into a lot of plastic and PVC – about 75 million pounds worth by some estimates. It also translates into a lot of misplaced and unused cards, especially when it comes to Millennials, who are more than twice as likely as older adults ... Read More
  • 11% drop? Some say ‘no way’

    Were Black Friday weekend sales really as slow as the NRF is reporting? Some are saying no. In case you missed it, the National Retail Federation’s weekend shopping survey found that total spending in stores and online (for the weekend through Sunday) fell to $50.9 billion from $57.4 billion last year, a whopping 11% drop. It also says the average person spent $159.55 online, down 10% from 2013. But not everyone is buying it. In an interview with CNBC's Squawk Box, Gerald Storch, CEO of Storch Advisors and former CEO of Toys R Us, said ... Read More