Warren Shoulberg
What gifts, et al, have to do with the shoppers, retailing and the rest of the known least according to editorial director Warren Shoulberg.
  • A Summer Wind

    And so it starts again. The gift industry is both blessed and cursed by its buying structure of trade shows and markets. It is one that is increasingly rare for the broader home furnishings business and more closely resembles the fashion apparel market of more frequent supplier-buyer exchanges on a seasonal basis. So, just as it seems we have barely recovered from the winter show circuit, we find the summer one starting the process all over again. This month in Dallas and through the balance of the summer at events in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York—not ... Read More
  • Luxe in Flux

    Neiman Marcus is up to its eyeballs in debt and can't find a way out of its misery. Saks Fifth Avenue is struggling to find its way in a radically different retail landscape. The parent company of Bloomingdale's keeps announcing layoffs and store closings and often treats its luxury brand as an afterthought. What's a better specialty store to do? As an independent gift retailer, you may look at other similar stores in town as your competition, but if you’re going after the high-end luxury market, those big national department stores—add Nordstrom to the list ... Read More
  • Risky Business

    The cost of entry to the gift business is both one of its most redeeming qualities and one of its biggest liabilities. We’ve all heard stories—way too many stories—of people who came up with a cool product on a lark or as a hobby and suddenly decided to make a business of it. Or someone who started selling things out of their trunk at flea markets and grew it enough to open a real store. For every success story along these lines, there are probably 10 that resulted in utter and disastrous outcomes: monies lost, jobs quit ... Read More
  • If it’s January, it Must be Market Time

    Well, you’re coming down the home stretch of the holiday season…though due to the wonderfulness of the calendar, the ten days after Christmas look like they will be every bit as active as the days before. With Saturday shopping days following right after both Christmas and New Years Day, there promises to be a lot of activity at retail both weekends. Just when you thought it was over. And of course, right after that, the January show circuit begins. If you’re like most retailers, you generally will only go to one of the markets or shows in ... Read More
  • Black…or Blue Ink Friday

    In the never-ending battle for retailers to drive traffic into their physical stores, there was another new tool used this past holiday weekend. And it came from Barnes & Noble, a big box retailer that has probably lost the most from the onset of Amazon and online selling. After all, Amazon began as a bookseller… remember? The B&N merchandising idea was a simple one, but also one that even though it came from a big store is easily adaptable by any independent retailer. The store arranged to have signed copies in its stores of some of its most high-profile books ... Read More
  • Don’t Give Up The Store Quite Yet

    In the rush to go online, you can’t blame retailers for thinking the sky is falling—actually it’s the roof—on physical stores and that the future is purely virtual. Well, the balance may shift that way eventually…but not quite yet. Consider an email sent out by J. Crew this week to its online customers. Few retailers have been as aggressive in putting their Internet businesses front and center as they have been. But this is also a business that values its physical stores and continues to innovate and create compelling reasons for shoppers to get off ... Read More
  • Remember Retailing?

    Every once in a while, you hear about a retailer doing such wonderful things that it makes you remember once again why it’s such a fascinating business and why – if this is what you do – you got into it in the first place. Well, I just read an interview with Brian Bolke, the owner of one of the best stores I’ve ever seen, Forty Five Ten in Dallas, and it was one of those moments. If you’ve never visited the store, make it a must on your next trip to Dallas. Located in the Knox-Henderson area, it ... Read More
  • This on Tats

    There’s a scene in the classic movie Rocky Horror Picture Show that tells us all how much things have changed. Dr. Frank-N-Furter (you had to be there) is showing Brad his tattoos, still a relative rarity back in 1975. He’s asks our very straight-laced hero if he has any tattoos and of course the answer is no. Then he turns to Janet—Susan Sarandon in her about-to-be-discarded pink dress—and asks, “How about you?” It was a punch line back in 1975, but it wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow four decades later. Everybody, it seems, has tattoos ... Read More
  • Read All About It

    There may be more trendy, fashion-forward retailers in the business than J. Crew…but I really can’t think of too many. For the past several years, the apparel retailer has been one of the most watched, analyzed – and copied – stores anywhere in American retailing. So anything they do should be noted…especially when they get into our territory. That’s why if you’ve haven’t checked out their online gift assortment recently, you really should: J. Crew, that all-knowing bastion of trends, is selling stationery. A quick search of their site showed about dozen paper and writing instrument ... Read More
  • Never on Sunday

    As we finish up another round of gift shows around the country, all of us are looking forward to perhaps actually getting a weekend off before the summer is over. It doesn’t need to be this way. Way back in the bad old days, the logic for holding trade shows over weekends made sense. Independent store owners worked six days a week and had no choice but to use their Sundays for attending markets and shows to do their ordering for next season. There was also the issue of airline fares. The dreaded Saturday-night-stay-over dictated that it was cheaper ... Read More
  • Buy, Baby, Buy

    In the Second Guessing department, the biggest complaint I always hear from retailers is that they didn’t buy enough for holiday. Retailers love to complain – I mean voice concern – about a whole host of things from bad deliveries to bad vendors to bad products…and they are often right. But this not-having-enough-stuff-to-sell-in-December thing usually ranks at the top of the list when it comes to issues that store owners wish had worked out better. Which is why the next 60 days are the make-or-break time for this particular scenario. Starting last month in Dallas and stretching through the entire ... Read More
  • 2,668 Pages

    If you’ve wanted an all-in-one style guide to the hottest trends in home and gift products, well, your wish has come true. All you need do is sign up at Restoration Hardware for their latest catalogs and you will get the most amazing resource guide to design trends in the business. It will take you a while, you see, because there are 2,668 pages you’ll have to go through. That’s the total of the 10 new Resto catalogs that just dropped last week to customers of the retail chain, which has become—at least in my ... Read More