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Opinions

HFN editors have years of experience covering products and retail for housewares, tabletop, floor covering, furniture and textiles. They share their opinions here.
  • Wrestling With Omnichannel

    Maureen AzzatoWithout question, brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling with omnichannel retailing and coming late to the party with mega technology and infrastructure investments. But, as they say, better late than never. The world, and how consumers buy, is changing at breakneck pace. It seems that any technology investments made today will be obsolete before they even launch, no matter how hard retailers try to read their tea leaves and extend as far into the future as possible. It’s not so different from urban planners building super highways that exceed capacity before construction is even finished. If the experts are to be ... Read More
  • At Your Service

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORShop at home decorating services. Bicycle repair departments. Pharmacies. Beauty salons. The classic American department store used to have all of those things–and plenty more–back in the day when they ruled the retail roost. You could walk into one of these emporiums (in fact, there actually was a store called The Emporium that California readers of a certain age will recall) and get nearly as many services as you could goods. So perhaps, under the heading that everything that’s old is new again, we shouldn’t be all that surprised that today’s retailing survivors are once ... Read More
  • HB2: Is it Really About Bathrooms?

    Bill McLoughlinA great deal of attention has been focused on North Carolina in recent weeks, most of it negative. The state legislature’s passage of HB2 and Governor Pat McCrory’s decision to sign it into law has led numerous companies to release statements distancing themselves from the law and the state. The weeks leading up to last month’s High Point Market were filled with boycott threats and angry statements opposing what many described as the discriminatory intent of the bill. Those who support the bill, most often quietly and almost universally off the record, typically express concern about the ... Read More
  • Latino Cross-Overs

    Maureen AzzatoTake off your marketing bifocals: Latino cultures appeal to more than just Hispanics. At 55.3 million strong in 2014, the Hispanic population is expected to grow to 105.8 million by 2065 (from 17.3 percent to 24 percent of the total U.S. population). Add to that what some call the “cross-over phenomenon”—non-Hispanics enamored with Latin cultures and food—and this consumer products market will explode. (See our cover story on how retailers and manufacturers are targeting this important market.) Raul Corzo, president of housewares company Imusa, opened my eyes to the cross-over phenomenon and how lucrative ... Read More
  • Soupy Sales

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORThe furniture industry never met a sale it didn’t love … or tried to run away from. Remember, this is the industry that brought the consuming world the “no-no-no” school of retailing. Art Fern of Teatime Movie fame on the Johnny Carson show had nothing on these stores that were really loan-sharking operations fronting as furniture retailers. Now, as the industry gathers in North Carolina this month for its twice-yearly us-versus-them extravaganza known as the High Point Market, it is presented with a new series of options in the world of getting consumers to buy credenzas … both of the needed ... Read More
  • Path to Omnichannel

    Bill McLoughlinAnother Housewares Show is in the books, 24 straight and counting. It’s always great catching up with friends and it’s good to see the wheels of innovation keep turning. It’s also fun to see those efforts to capitalize on new buzzwords and trends, some of which result in really cool new solutions and others . . . well, at least they’re trying. Speaking of buzzwords, can we please stop misusing the term omnichannel. It’s become the popular way to describe having a brick-and-mortar store, e-commerce website and responsive mobile platform—that’s multichannel, albeit with an electronic twist ... Read More
  • Color Me Green

    Andrea LilloShe had me at forest bathing. Forest bathing, the Japanese therapeutic method of connecting with nature, or Shinrin-yoku, promotes well-being by encouraging one to literally walk in the forest to de-stress. It also is the name of one of Pantone View Home + Interiors 2017 color palettes, and last month Lee Eiseman—veteran color expert and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute—talked about it and the eight other palettes in a presentation in Chicago titled, “Color/Design at a Crossroads.” As a lover of nature—and green in general—I found the Forest Bathing palette especially appealing, particularly as ... Read More
  • HB2’s Economic Quicksand

    Maureen AzzatoNo matter how one feels personally or politically about House Bill 2—which was swiftly passed by the North Carolina legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory on March 23—one thing is certain: It will be bad for business. The law blocks cities in the state from allowing transgender individuals to use public bathrooms for the sex they identify as, and restricts municipalities from passing nondiscrimination laws. The High Point Market Authority was one of the first in the industry to express concern about the negative impact of the bill, noting that dozens of customers had contacted ... Read More
  • Health Takes Housewares

    David GillAt last month’s International Home + Housewares Show, much of the talk and product introductions centered around health and wellness. As the HFN editor who covers small electrics, I spent a good deal of my show time in the Lakeside building at McCormick Place. Many of the new products on display there were geared toward promoting better health. New blenders and juicers, plus new versions of existing blenders and juicers, zeroed in on consumers’ desire to eat and drink healthier. They certainly had an effect on me. I drank more juice and smoothies during the show than I had for ... Read More
  • HB2’s Economic Quicksand

    Maureen AzzatoNo matter how one feels personally or politically about House Bill 2—which was swiftly passed by the North Carolina legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory on March 23—one thing is certain: It will be bad for business. The law blocks cities in the state from allowing transgender individuals to use public bathrooms for the sex they identify as, and restricts municipalities from passing nondiscrimination laws. The High Point Market Authority was one of the first in the industry to express concern about the negative impact of the bill, noting that dozens of customers had contacted ... Read More
  • From The Editor: HFN’s Powerful Show Resources

    Maureen AzzatoLike many of you in the housewares and textiles industries, HFN has worked tirelessly over the past few months preparing for the International Home + Housewares Show and the New York Home Fashions Market. HFN has reported, written and designed its March issues to help retailers and suppliers navigate both markets. First on deck is the Housewares Show March 5-8 in Chicago, which we are supporting with a national print publication as well as three show dailies. In addition to distributing our issues at our booth (S3084), in the publication kiosks at McCormick Place, and hand distributing them throughout the convention ... Read More
  • Home Again: A Tale of Two Industries

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORThere’s a certain degree of irony in the fact that both the home textiles and housewares industries hold big trade show events this month. After all, the retail customer bases of the two product categories are remarkably similar—big box national chains dominate both businesses—and merchandising cycles dictate that buying activity occur in the first quarter of the year. But beyond that, the two industries have veered off onto parallel universes and any similarities are largely accidental. The home textiles folks do two markets a year, while housewares is largely focused on this single show, though others are ... Read More
  • Wrestling With Omnichannel

    Maureen AzzatoWithout question, brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling with omnichannel retailing and coming late to the party with mega technology and infrastructure investments. But, as they say, better late than never. The world, and how consumers buy, is changing at breakneck pace. It seems that any technology investments made today will be obsolete before they even launch, no matter how hard retailers try to read their tea leaves and extend as far into the future as possible. It’s not so different from urban planners building super highways that exceed capacity before construction is even finished. If the experts are to be ... Read More
  • At Your Service

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORShop at home decorating services. Bicycle repair departments. Pharmacies. Beauty salons. The classic American department store used to have all of those things–and plenty more–back in the day when they ruled the retail roost. You could walk into one of these emporiums (in fact, there actually was a store called The Emporium that California readers of a certain age will recall) and get nearly as many services as you could goods. So perhaps, under the heading that everything that’s old is new again, we shouldn’t be all that surprised that today’s retailing survivors are once ... Read More
  • HB2: Is it Really About Bathrooms?

    Bill McLoughlinA great deal of attention has been focused on North Carolina in recent weeks, most of it negative. The state legislature’s passage of HB2 and Governor Pat McCrory’s decision to sign it into law has led numerous companies to release statements distancing themselves from the law and the state. The weeks leading up to last month’s High Point Market were filled with boycott threats and angry statements opposing what many described as the discriminatory intent of the bill. Those who support the bill, most often quietly and almost universally off the record, typically express concern about the ... Read More
  • Your Total Home and Housewares Resource

    Maureen AzzatoIt is a privilege to join the team of such an iconic business-to-business brand as HFN. In the month I have been on the job, it has been so gratifying to hear from and speak to readers and clients who have such a strong affinity to HFN, and who rely on it so fully for their on-trend business decisions across the home and housewares categories. We thank you for your readership and trust, and we plan to build on that wonderful legacy in the future. There are few media brands that have been around as long as HFN (we will ... Read More
  • Blog: Small + Small = Big for The Grommet

    Allison Zisko There's been a bit of a love fest going on during the winter gift show circuit, I'm told, between small, independent retailers and the small manufacturers represented on The Grommet's new wholesale platform. The Grommet is a web-based product launch hub that enables small or just-getting-started entrepreneurs (often called "makers") to sell their goods directly to consumers, and, more recently, to retailers. It's where "the little guy meets the little guy," explained Joanne Domeniconi, who founded The Grommet in 2008 with Jules Pieri. The Grommet focuses on under-represented entrepreneurs, and pays special attention to people under ... Read More
  • Blog: Happy Holidays from Amazon

    Duke RatliffLike getting a pink slip during the holidays or a lump of coal in the stocking, retailers must be feeling that Amazon is giving them a not-so-fine present this season as the nation's largest online retailer announced today that it is testing a one-hour delivery service in Manhattan.Called Prime Now, the service promises to deliver tens of thousands of items including paper towels, shampoo, books, toys and batteries delivered right to the customer's door in an hour or less. Amazon said that Prime Now--exclusive to its Prime Members (who pay annual membership fees of $99 a year ... Read More
  • Blog: Ma Lauded, Lampert Dissed

    David GillHANOVER, N.H.-This year's list of best and worst CEOs has come out, with Jack Ma of Alibaba finishing on the positive side and Eddie Lampert of Sears Holdings among the negatives.The two lists are provided each year by Sydney Finkelstein, professor of management at Dartmouth University's Tuck School of Business and author of "Think Again: Why Good Leaders Made Bad Decisions and How to Keep It from Happening to You." According to a statement from the Tuck School, Finkelstein has studied business failures and leaders' mistakes for more than 20 years.Ma was cited as ... Read More
  • Show and Tell

    Duke RatliffThe trade show calendar begins with a bang in January as retailers have lots of opportunities to look for the next big thing. Here is HFN's Trade Show Preview for the first half of the year.---HFN Staff ReportJANUARYAtlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market Jan. 6-13Atlanta International Area Rug Market Jan. 7-10americasmart.comFor many in the industry, 2015 kicks off in Atlanta, at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market and the Atlanta International Area Rug Market. AmericasMart Atlanta will debut Floor 15 in Building 1, a new Home & Design collection that adds more ... Read More
  • Blog: Grand Finale

    David GillYesterday was an occasion in which the textiles industry honored a person whose coming departure will make the business quite a bit poorer, and a lot less fun.Mark Grand, who will retire as of president of Peking Handicrafts at the end of this year, received the Carl Goldstein Lifetime Achievement Award from the Home Fashion Products Association for his 40-year career, 36 of which were spent in textiles. He was honored twice--first, at the HFPA's annual meeting in the morning; and second, at a special roast thrown by Home & Textiles Today in the evening.Mark spent the first ... Read More
  • Blog: More New York Tabletop Show Discoveries

    Allison ZiskoNEW YORK-The New York Tabletop Show ends today, wrapping up what several vendors said has been a satisfying show.Gibson outlined some of what it considers the key trends going forward: Au Naturel, a catch-all phrase for handcrafted pottery looks that display the hand of the artist; black and white; global blue (the key hue is indigo or cobalt); a new romanticism, filled with soft pastels and flea-market type looks; and Bohemian Forest, which encompasses both forest and woodland creatures as well as more eclectic shapes. Gibson also introduced a Liberty-like print in Isaac Mizrahi; a melamine dinnerware assortment ... Read More
  • Blog: More News from New York

    Allison ZiskoA second day at the New York Tabletop Market unearthed plenty of new products and marketing plans.Libbey is referring to its new marketing strategy as "owning the moment," reflecting a new emphasis on cultivating consumer experiences rather than focusing solely on product. It launched a new brand, Just Indulge, which is based on home entertaining. Among the groupings in this new brand are Modern Bar, Vintage Bar, Cafe (addressing the coffee and tea trend) and Be Social, with an emphasis on appetizers and small plates. It also introduced the premium version of its Perfect drinkware brand, which is all ... Read More
  • Blog: News from the New York Tabletop Show

    Allison ZiskoThe New York Tabletop Show is in full swing.Lifetime Brands is introducing a wide array of new dinnerware, glassware and flatware, most of which is contemporary and casual, in muted neutrals, pale pastels and the color combination of the moment, indigo and white. Lifetime also introduced Towle dinnerware, designed to coordinate with existing popular silverplated flatware patterns, and several new Mikasa dinnerware patterns configured in 16-piece sets, a first for the brand. Pfaltzgraff looked particularly good with several new reactive glazed dinnerware patterns; a room full of mugs in every imaginable shape, color and theme, along with accessory items ... Read More