Retail Therapy: What Mannequins Say About Us
Like the larger fashion industry, mannequin design echoes seasonal styles that come and go, both in regard to technological improvements and the way we view our bodies. “It’s often the body attitudes and facial expressions that reflect what’s going on socially,” says Hale. Accordingly, the stiff, unnatural bodies of early mannequins were well-matched for the Victorian Era‘s restrictive ideas about women’s rights and fashions, which dictated they wear many layers of heavy fabric over tight-fitting corsets. [more inside]
The Guardian on the decline of America's shopping malls.
"Dying shopping malls are speckled across the United States, often in middle-class suburbs wrestling with socioeconomic shifts. Some, like Rolling Acres
, have already succumbed. Estimates on the share that might close or be repurposed in coming decades range from 15 to 50%. Americans are returning downtown; online shopping is taking a 6% bite out of brick-and-mortar sales; and to many iPhone-clutching, city-dwelling and frequently jobless young people, the culture that spawned satire like Mallrats
seems increasingly dated, even cartoonish.
The trend is especially noticeable in the Midwest, a former blue-collar bastion where ailing malls have begun dotting suburban landscapes. Outside of Chicago, Lakehurst Mall
was levelled in 2004 and the half-vacant Lincoln Mall
is costing its host village millions in botched redevelopment plans. Dixie Square
Mall sat vacant for more than 30 years after serving as the backdrop for the iconic chase scene in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. It was finally demolished in 2012. Many others will similarly lie dormant as they wait for the wrecking ball."
London's first pay-per-minute café
) costs 3 pence (5 cents) per minute to be there. Part of a chain from Russia
. A Moscow cafe
Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem (alternate link): [CEO Eddie] Lampert. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.
predicts the end of traditional retail
Retail chains are a fundamentally implausible economic structure if there’s a viable alternative. You combine the fixed cost of real estate with inventory, and it puts every retailer in a highly leveraged position. Few can survive a decline of 20 to 30 percent in revenues. It just doesn’t make any sense for all this stuff to sit on shelves. There is fundamentally a better model.
Last One Falling
- photographer Amy Connolly documented the last days of a Liverpool branch of HMV whilst working there in 2011, a stark contrast to the images of the flagship store
in the sixties and seventies (previously
). The chain yesterday announced it was entering administration
after 91 years on the high street
. [more inside]
The Death of the American Shopping Mall
"Online retailers are relentlessly gaining share in many retail categories, and offline players are fighting for progressively smaller pieces of the retail pie. A number of physical retailers have already succumbed to online competition including Circuit City, Borders, CompUSA, Tower Records and Blockbuster, and many others are showing signs of serious economic distress. These mall and shopping center stalwarts are closing stores by the thousands, and there are few large physical chains opening stores to take their place. Yet the quantity of commercial real estate targeting retail continues to grow, albeit slowly. Rapidly declining demand for real estate amid growing supply is a recipe for financial disaster."
Ron Johnson, who was responsible for Target and Apple's wildly successful retail chains, is now trying to reinvent the department store from the ground up
as J. C. Penney's new CEO: divid[ing] stores into 100 shops that [...] will each be like its own small store. Surrounding the shops will be wide aisles that Johnson calls 'streets.' Along those pathways will be ice cream and coffee bars and wood tables with built-in iPad tablet computers that shoppers can use to surf online.
But after quarter after quarter of heavy loss, some analysts think Johnson is destroying J. C. Penney
. But they've predicted his failure before.
More on Johnson's work with the Apple Store
. Johnson himself on what he learned building the Apple Store
The iEconomy: Apple and Technology Manufacturing.
Since January, the New York Times has been running a series of articles "examining the challenges posed by increasingly globalized high-tech industries," with a focus on Apple's business practices. The seventh article in the series was published today: In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword
. Related: For Software, Cracks in the Patent System
and Fighters in the Patent War
. [more inside]
of severe setbacks
, limited backdoor entry
of dollars spent lobbying
and a truculent audience
, Wal-Mart finally gets a green signal
for the Indian market. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced lifting of restrictions
on foreign investment in India's retail and aviation sectors as an economic boost.
Many are sceptical
. The truculence
remains. What happens
"Like a lot of locals, he says that one of his big fears is Costa serving notice that Totnes is ready to be colonised, and sparking the arrival of Caffe Nero, Subway and all the rest." A town declares war on Costa Coffee
"Nothing is in a grocery store is where it is by accident. Every item on a shelf has been planned
." Theatrically lit fruits and veggies? Limbic system-triggering flowers up front? Subtle manipulation of the shopping path? Meet Paco Underhill, master of the science of shopping, author, and founder of a consulting firm that specializes in advising companies on how small changes in retail environments can add up to increased sales. Think of him as a tour guide
(YT, from his firm) who explains how these spaces are designed and why we fall for it. [more inside]
Supermarkets are attempting to customize prices for different shoppers. At a Safeway in Denver, a 24-pack of Refreshe bottled water costs $2.71 for Jennie Sanford, a project manager. For Emily Vanek, a blogger, the price is $3.69. [more inside]
Economies of Scale
is a free, web-based multiplayer business/commerce simulation game under development by Scott Rubyton (aka Ratan Joyce). Players use starting capital to build production/wholesale/retail businesses from the ground up in a basic economic model, competing for market share while collaborating through business-to-business trading of goods and materials. It's more fun than getting an MBA! Also much less expensive. [more inside]
"I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave: My brief, backbreaking, rage-inducing, low-paying, dildo-packing time inside the online-shipping machine
Last Sunday, Comic Book Men premiered on AMC, sliding right into the time slot right after the comic book-based Walking Dead series. It's a reality show masterminded by filmmaker and occasional comic book writer Kevin Smith that follows four employees at his New Jersey comic book shop, the Secret Stash, as they deal with the world of comics retail. If the intent is to show comic shop employees as anything other than obnoxious walking sterotypes, it's a complete failure. If, however, it's meant to be the most compelling argument I've ever seen for never setting foot in a comic book store, I have to admit that it's a smashing success.
- Chris Sims reviews Comic Book Men
. Remember, no chicks allowed
Amazon has recently declared that tomorrow is Price Check day
. If you go into a brick and mortar retail store with Amazon’s new Price Check App
on your smart phone, and scan a barcode with the location settings active, and then report back to Amazon on the price of that product, Amazon will deduct $5 from your online purchase of that product. Amazon claims it’s trying to keep prices low for consumers, but others attribute the move to a less innocuous agenda
. [more inside]
usually sells Terry's Chocolate Oranges
for £2.75. Yet, in a scene reminiscent of US show Extreme Couponing
, a UK 'daily deals'
site discovered a glitch
that meant shoppers got them for 29p each. And boy howdy, did they get them
A look inside HMV
's flagship store on London's Oxford Street
. After a troubled year
for the record chain, here's how the same building looks today
Richard Weston is not only a professor of architecture
at Cardiff University. He is now a fashion designer. Being interviewed
by Vogue. Beautiful Weston silk scarves
printed with scans of minerals, fossils and stones are now on sale at London's historic department store Liberty
. [more inside]
A new brand of super shoppers
use coupons and other discounts to get products for absurdly low prices. The Web has turned this group from a series of independent operators into cohesive groups, frustrating retailers.
aims to chronicle the ghostboxes
of America - the stripped carcasses of malls and out-of-town retail parks left over once the forclosure buzzards have moved in. And there's a lot of them
about. (On the endangered list)
. [more inside]
Two articles about successful clothes retailers - Uniqlo
and Abercrombie & Fitch
- that are both full of interesting tidbits ("Uniqlo is a company that prescribes, records, and analyzes every activity undertaken by every employee, from folding technique to the way advisers return charge cards to customers. Japanese style, with two hands and full eye contact").
In addition, the two articles have a lot to say about branding and what companies place importance on - with A&F coming across as a typical fashion retailer, aggressively selling and marketing a very specific look, and Uniqlo seeming to be doing something quite different and contrary to received wisdom. [more inside]
After decades of selling tampons and "sanitary products" with ads
containing nebulous, euphemistic images and language, Kotex launched
a new product line, 'U by Kotex'
and a 'Declaration of Real Talk Campaign'
to encourage girls and women to speak about menstruation without embarrassment
. Ironically, their ad was rejected by the major US television networks
for mentioning the word 'vagina'. Here's the 'safe for the viewing public' version.
/ YT channel
. [more inside]
In a story broken by the New York Times
, unsold clothes were found in trash bags outside of H&M and Wal-Mart, apparently cut up so as to be unwearable
, in a city with 16,000 homeless people
currently in the midst of a recession and a very cold winter. [more inside]
Re-inhabited Circle Ks
- an exhibit of identical storefronts abandoned by a national chain of convenience stores and re-purposed by new businesses. [more inside]
Hoping to work his way around to describing the graphic novel bookstore
he wants to open some day, big box bookstore employee the Rocket Bomber has made strides in natural history by delineating the seven types of bookstore clients
. Some snark in the comments has led to a followup post
with additional how-to-run-a-bookstore musings.
Pop up shops
have been popping
up, well, pretty much everywhere
. And pop up restaurants
. And pop up art galleries
. While the trend started long before the current retail downturn, and looks set to continue as companies strive to create interest in their products and services, will creative spontaneity start to look a little bit too planned and evolve into a mainstream retail channel
Ernest Kirschner, a 61-year-old business owner from East Haddam, is among thousands of Connecticut residents who may become the new voice of Walmart.
When the Benton, Ark.-based retailer formed its own "support group," the New England Customer Action Network, Kirschner signed up eagerly.
"I would stick up for Wal-Mart as strong as I can," said Kirschner, a frequent shopper. "I really think they've gotten an unfair shake."
Wal-Mart Forms Customer 'Support Group' To Counter Opponents [more inside]
There's been much talk about the Supreme's decisions on desegregation
and free speech
, but another ruling with broad consumer impact has gone relatively unnoticed. In a 5-4 decision
[PDF], the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 96-year-old ban
on minimum pricing agreements between manufacturers and retailers. Dissenting opinion believes that this ruling will hurt consumers, raise prices and keep new retailers out of the marketplace. The 1911 ruling that was overturned was Dr. Miles Medical Co. vs. John D. Park & Sons
which decided that it is always illegal for a supplier to dictate minimum prices to a retailer.
Akamai's Internet Visualizations.
Akamai is a major mirroring and caching service which serves up a large chunk of all internet traffic. They are now sharing some pretty visualizations based on their data which used to be customer only. News
. Real-time Web Monitor
. Network Performance Comparison.
Add to Cart, Buy, Buy Now, Add to Brown Bag?
107 clickable shopping cart buttons on one page. Most popular colour: red. I only recognize the Amazon button--clearly I need to hone my online shopping-fu.
. "Dine, shop, live, work, and be entertained in a unique and alluring environment," says the Time Warner Center
website - all without ever stepping outside your gleaming Manhattan skyscraper. San Jose's Santana Row
, which at first glance seemed no more than a Beverly Center
you can live in, is now being compared favorably to urban European living. And MGM-Mirage
's new, mysterious
and costly ($7 billion!) Project CityCenter
brings the trend to Las Vegas - with gambling, of course. They're not Arcosantis
- and they don't, as yet, require an Oath of Fealty
- but by all accounts they're thriving
. What do they have in common? Wealthy tenants, megacorporate sponsors, and a shared desire to integrate efficient, conspicuous consumption into every aspect of civic life. Paolo Soleri
may have been right after all - maybe he just forgot to account for the effects of capitalism
Best Buy to offer CDs by indie artists for $7.99.
"Choose from 20 impress-your-friends selections" at below wholesale price. What does this mean to you and me? Responses from Carrot Top Distribution
and Merge Records