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Archive for February, 2010...

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ALL RETAILERS KNOW you have to constantly freshen merchandise to maximize sales.  Customers either inquire if you have the latest (and specific) fashion item they want to buy, or may simply ask you, “What’s new and exciting?”  Most stores have a specific mix of items and work within that context.  This gives them their identity and builds a customer base for repeat sales. 

For one Manhattan boutique, IT’S THE IDENTITY THAT WILL CHANGE, at set intervals (currently, every two months), to excite existing patrons, and attract new buyers.  One part of the signage that will be static is the name of the company:  Scoop.  The second half of the signage will change every other month, AS WILL THE CHARACTER OF THE STORE’S MERCHANDISE!   Right now, the sign reads Scoop After Dark —so you know the store is focused on night-on-the-town wear and accessories, BUT ONLY UNTIL THE END OF JANUARY!  In February, it will take on a totally new personality in a new themed merchandise mix, with a new and provocative name on that second half of the sign, all as yet to be decided.

                                    Chameleon Concept

The boutique was formerly Scoop’s discount outlet, and smallish, under 800 square feet.  It’s acting as a TESTING GROUND for management for this unique chameleon concept.  Later, with store stats in hand, management will assay how much work is really involved, how customers react to the quick-change program, and whether the level of profit makes it all worthwhile.

EXCITEMENT ALWAYS SELLS.  HERE ARE SOME HOT IDEAS TO FRESHEN YOUR OWN STOCK, PRESTO!   TRY THESE:

 

 

 

 

 

IS THIS VISIONARY MERCHANDISING??

The Scoop chain currently has fourteen units, with three others ON THE SAME BLOCK as Scoop
After Dark, and each of the stores has distinct character.  The discount operation has been relocated to the lower level of SCOOP ACTIVE (the name defines the active sportswear and accessories featured there).  The other two stores are for each of the sexes:  SCOOP NYC (ladies contemporary specialties) and SCOOP MEN’S.

The chain is definitely upscale, and the perks of higher pricing should provide leeway for management to transform the test store in a provocative and effective manner every eight weeks.  But sources do need lead time, sales staff must be knowledgeable, and exchanges could be tricky if a purchase is made at Scoop After Dark, and returned the next week at, say, Scoop Casual.   You know that, by now, management has figured out how all this is going to work, and they’ve decided they have the systems to deal with it.

One thing is certain, “new idea” is a fitting label for Scoop After Dark, and lots of added excitement will stem from SIMPLE CHATS WITH PATRONS BY SALES STAFF  about the short life of each store theme (only 8 weeks, remember), and the oncoming thrill of a new store persona,  again and again.  Who wouldn’t be intrigued to come back and see what fresh theme and what all-new merchandise choices would be coming next?

                                   

BUT EVERYONE NEEDS QUALITY PRODUCTS THAT KEEP PACE WITH CURRENT TRENDS– AT DOWN-TO-EARTH PRICING.  SO LOOK HERE:

  • Leatherette Evening Bag:   silver or washed gold.  Measures 6” x 8”, gathered at the top with crystal studded fold-over closure.  Tuck in the chain handle and use as clutch.  Stunning!

 

 

 

  • Stylized Flower Brooch.  Layered crystal forms a stylized flower.  Gold plate, amber crystals sit over champagne Murano style glass stones.  Magnificent accent jewelry gives new dimension to apparel.

There have been high-level executive changes since Scoop was acquired by Yucaipa in 2007.  Retailing in general has been difficult for several years, but imaginative top brass like Scoop’s are determined to flourish.  And we not only wish them the best, but we’re certain the outlook is great!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, February 27th, 2010

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Buyers shopping the recent rash of trade shows in New York City surprised even the smartest marketing pundits by arriving in an optimistic mood and showing greater interest in color, prints, and creative accessories.  Good price points and value were likewise high on the retailers’ purchase lists. 

 

                                              Intermezzo

 

“Intermezzo was busier than expected,” said ENK chairman Elyse Kroll, discussing the NY trade show that features high-end contemporary designs mainly for handbags and jewelry.  “Retailers were less cautious than in seasons past.” ENK has also seen larger booths by exhibitors this year, signals that suggested “designers and manufacturers are starting to feel better about business.”

 

While business was certainly more upbeat, it has still not come back to where it was prior to the recession.  Still, many exhibitors reported good business activity.  Orders for Milly, for example, which focused on jewel tones and bold patterns, were up a little from last year.  Milly’s prices have remained about the same as 2009, but some firms have dropped prices in order to stimulate sales.  At Sunner, for example, wholesale prices were down about 25 percent from pre-recession levels. 

 

PRICING IS ALWAYS THE UNDERLYING BASIC BEHIND GOOD VALUE.  HERE ARE SOME TERRIFIC OFFERINGS:

 

 

 

 

 

                                             Moda Manhattan

 

Last month’s Moda Manhattan saw much healthier retail this year than last.  Britton Jones, CEO of Business Journals, Inc. noted that “Retailers came in with a hunger, more cash, and bought more aggressively.”

   —Lines were apparently scrutinized for quality and value more than ever. Pastels were particularly popular, such as lime green.  Bright Floridian patterns were also big movers. 

 

“November to spring is a tough time,” said Cheryl Glense of Ritsi in Montreal.  “Our customers are looking for fun things.  If it is different, they’ll pay.”

 

                                          Designers & Agents

 

Exhibitors at Designers & Agents in New York saw a lot of trends from spring continuing into summer, such as bold prints, geometric prints, florals and neutral colors.  Cross-body handbags in multiple shapes and sizes were popular

 

While many reported a higher level of optimism this year, there still was an air of nervousness apparent in buyers. “Buying is closer to the season, and that is forcing designers to rework their whole structure,” said Meredith Sherman, sales manager of Seamless Showroom. 

 

Mary Ayscew of Aubrey Co. added, “Buyers are looking for classic silhouettes, color, and simplicity.”

 

                                               Fame

 

At Fame, exhibitors were up 20 percent.  Britton Jones of Business Journals, Inc., pointed out that Fame serves a market segment that is particularly hot right now. “It’s more fast fashion.  It is fun.  It is affordable.  And it’s very profitable.” 

 

Monica Domantay, director of sales for The Addison Story, attributed the good show traffic to accessible price points.  “The prices are fabulous,” declared Anh Nguyen of the Jack and Jill Boutique in Philadelphia. She said she was looking for light weight neutrals, softer baby colors and easy to wear dresses. 

   —Another retailer from Pennsylvania said “People aren’t buying expensive things any more.  They’re looking for J. Crew and preppy with an edge.”

 

GETTING INTO REAL FASHION FOR A VALUE-ORIENTED PRICE IS THE 2010

MANTRA FOR SUCCESS.  LOOK HERE FOR PRODUCTS THAT OFFER JUST THAT:

 

 

 

 

  • Carved eagle head hematite necklace captures the spirit of the American wilderness.

                                  Nouveau Collective

 

At the Nouveau Collective trade show, exhibitors reported sales running several percentage points ahead of 2009.  Sharp-eyed merchandising, timely offerings and abundant staffs to take care of prospective buyers appeared to be coaxing buyers into a good purchasing mood. 

 

Kiki Hughes who owns a specialty store in Philadelphia said business has been hard but she is putting into practice a number of marketing tactics to help build sales.  She regularly calls customers to encourage them to visit.  She also has trunk shows and private shopping parties in her boutique. 

 

With many retailers spending less, exhibitors said they were emphasizing items and accessories.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, February 25th, 2010

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RETAILERS ATTENDING THE Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva last month were generally optimistic, looking for new ideas and products to further jump-start their businesses as the economy slowly shakes itself free of the global recession..  “The mood is better than last year but there is still a clear understanding that the war is not over,” said Francois-Henry Bennahmias, chief executive with the exclusive timemaker, Audermars Piguet.

A return to classic styling was the main theme of the show, as manufacturers pushed company heritage as a major selling point.  Many were even moving away from sports watches, for example, and back to their roots with finely crafted timepieces.

—There was no small amount of social snobbery here, a kind of landed aristocracy emphasis that seemed to say, “If you buy from us you will share our privileged position.”

Watch firms are even taking customers on factory tours so that they will understand what goes into making a watch.  This is, on one hand, a long way from the luxury-designed showrooms in which watches are usually sold, but it is also a deeper and more personal experience for the buyer, aimed at creating a stronger form of  brand loyalty.

WATCHES ARE A PERENNIAL FAVORITE AS A PERSONAL PURCHASE OR AS A GIFT.  HERE ARE SOME RICH CHOICES AT NOT-SO-RICH PRICES:

  • Fashion watch face in a variety of rich colors.

Skinny Pieces

THINNESS WAS ANOTHER MAJOR THEME at the Salon.   Retailers were obviously excited by Piaget’s offerings in this field, specifically the company’s Altiplano Automatic which has set world records for both the thinnest automatic movement and the thinnest case.  Looking at it from the side, the watch looks like a very thin quarter, sleek and complete.

Other firms clocked in with various record-thin offerings, such as the Vacheron Constantin Historique 1955, which the company claims is the thinnest manual-winding watch in the world.

Leading off American offerings and further emphasizing the importance of thinnest at the Show — was Ralph Lauren who introduced six new pieces in his Slim Classique collection.

A considerable number of concept watches could be seen at the Show, along with many interesting novelties (despite some observers’ contention that demand for novelties has slipped somewhat).  Missing, however, was an overload of flash and glitz, which until recently has been a lightning rod for most watch firms.  Lauren’s Slim Classique 38mm White gold watch did feature a row of brilliant cut diamonds around the face, but only one thin line, very classy-looking, very quiet.

WATCHES AND WATCH ACCESSORIES WITH LESS – INSTEAD OF MORE – EMBELLISHMENT IS THE NEWEST LOOK. PAY ATTENTION TO THESE GREAT PRODUCTS:

  • Colored stones watch band.  Elegant!

  • Colored crystals and beads watch band.

A New Decade

“EVERYONE IS REINVESTING,” declared one watchmaker. “Retailers want to start afresh this new decade.”  A certain amount of minimalism was found at the Salon this year, with watches looking like watches, instead of gemstone bracelets. A high level of craftsmanship was also prized, with details highly refined and exquisitely sculpted.

“There is a real flight to quality,” one retailer commented.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, February 20th, 2010

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WHAT’S A RETAILER TO DO? Every time you turn around, there’s a new subset of people to track and understand so you can provide the right mix of merchandise to attract sales.  Now the spotlight is on the youngest among us, dubbed by one California psychologist the “iGeneration,” the first generation to always have had access to the super-connectivity of technology in their lives.  The psychologist, Larry Rosen, will soon publish a new book titled “Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration”

How Young is this iGENERATION?

What Rosen says, essentially, is the iGeneration includes today’s teens and middle-schoolers whose life experience is so dominated by tech that it molds their behavior and the WAY THEY THINK. (But even preschoolers can show iGeneration traits.  Just check your local toy school, and you’ll see that there are interactive games for children ages 2 and 3!)  And many professionals feel there is some sort of mental re-wiring happening here.

While earlier generations studied to cram facts into their minds, iGeneration members know they can access facts and figures –whatever!—easily on line, and are more inclined to study HOW TO FIND INFORMATION, when they need it.  Researchers claim these students take in huge amounts of data, screen out unimportant details and focus on relevant facts.

CUSTOMIZE ACCESSORIES FOR THE NEW iGENERATION MINDSET:

You may think the “i” in the term iGeneration was lifted from the iPhone, but Rosen means “individualized.”  He says this new batch of upstart technophiles expects everything customized or individualized for them:  music choices, TV programming, games, web applications.  Sites such as Facebook, My Space and Twitter all provide a personal platform for them, for what they think, how they feel, what they do, what they say, right now.

So here are some key characteristics of the iGEN:

  • Very early and continuous exposure to technology
  • Always virtually ‘available,’ as are their peers, 24/7
  • Immediate gratification from personal devices
  • So submerged in multitasking they take it as completely natural
  • Quick to adopt and master new technologies

“What’s New?” Takes On Real Personal Meaning

Since new or improved digital devices have been constantly introduced over their lifetimes, the iGeneration expects innovation.   If somebody thinks of a new technotool or application, they take it for granted that someone will come up with the real thing.  (Probably Apple’s Steve Jobs comes immediately to mind, but there are thousands of resourceful innovators out there.)  Everything they might want or need can be precisely tailored for them – this is something they believe.  They can see the truth of this all around them.

NEW ATTITUDES AND MINDSETS are molded with this  proliferation of technology in everyday life and non-stop interaction with both virtual and real  friends.  Even iGeneration’s older and tech-savvy siblings feel free-er, less compulsively connected than their younger brothers and sisters.

Show All, Tell All

iGeneration’s digital “lifelines” are portable, on their person constantly, and readily usable.   Oddly enough, these students can perform comparatively well.  They’re not as distracted as you might expect, with all that’s going on, and can split their attention between workload and social communiqués with ease.  Books are still important, but this group is much more attuned to video; many use webcams themselves and post their videos on line, often for the internet world to see.  This behavior reflects their need for self expression and their self confidence.

HERE ARE SOME FOCUSED  IDEAS FOR THE iGENERATION:

  • Her own Initial Necklace, Pink Leatherette cord – silver-plated filigree frame.  Up front and Personalized as an accessory can get!

  • Visor – For Him:  Checkered Flag broadcasts Life is a Race!
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, February 19th, 2010

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Interactive Fashion

VIDEO GAMES HAVE LONG BEEN the purview of the male world, but look out, electronics!  Michael Kors, and  Heidi Krum are about to enter the video mecca with a new and exciting game based on fashion and aimed directly at 18-to-25 year old women.  The designers figure they can successfully tap into the $20 billion U.S. video game industry and simultaneously awaken the power of the female consumer to a whole new market experience. Games based on Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” featuring Kors, Krum, and Tim Gunn are scheduled for release this year.

A number of Fashion Week videos are in the conceptual stage and are expected to come on stream in the near future.  505 Games Company has already experienced a high level of success with its new video aimed at 8-to-12 year old girls.  Called “Fashion Week: Junior Stylist” the interactive game enables girls to play the role of fashion designer and make clothing and accessories.

Brooks Brothers Eyes the Girls

THE CLASSY NEW YORK-HEADQUARTERED retailer, Brooks Brothers, says it will launch a new line of clothing and accessories aimed at girls. Yes, girls!  This is the first time the company has gone any place near that market in its 192 year history.  “This is probably the most requested product category we have,” declared Claudio Del Vecchio, Brooks’ CEO.  The new collection will cover the entire lifestyle needs of a young girl, from playwear to school wear and special occasion clothing and accessories.  Most will sell for $200 or less.

The store says girls aren’t altogether new customers at Brooks. They’ve been coming in for some time to buy boyswear products, like T’s and button-down shirts.  But now, the new line will focus directly on girls and what they need and want for themselves.  As one store executive said, “It helps Brooks Brothers become a true lifestyle brand.”

YOU CAN FIND RITZY CHILDREN’S ACCESSORIES AT A REASONABLE PRICE.  LOOK HERE:

Cadmium Alarm

A PRIVATE INVESTIGATION by the Associated Press into the use of Cadmium in consumer products is expected to spark a new debate, not unlike one last year that resulted in more restrictive use of lead in consumer products.  It seems cadmium is being used extensively in a number of products, including children’s jewelry, and that is a major problem, since heavy metals such as cadmium and lead can cause brain damage in children.

In a speech to the Toy Conference in Hong Kong last week, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum warned manufacturers in China not to substitute cadmium for lead in children’s products. China has said that it is looking into the allegations.

— In response to the new product alarm, Claire’s Stores says it is halting sales of charm bracelets identified as possibly containing dangerous levels of cadmium.  And Wal-Mart Stores says it will pull from its shelves all products suspected of containing harmful levels of the heavy metal.

New Fashion Role

SARAH JESSICA PARKER JUST NEVER stays still.  Now the former superstar of TV’s “Sex and the City” is about to take an active design role in Halston Heritage, a newly launched secondary collection that features updated Halston archival pieces at modest price points.  It is understood that she may even take on the title of creative director.

As the fictional Carrie Bradshaw in her TV series, Parker wore just about every major designer’s clothing and accessories. As a result, the TV show and subsequent movie have turned Parker into a fashion icon.  That Parker has long flirted with the fashion world is part of her personal mystique.

Parker has tried entering the fashion world directly in the past, but with little success. Among other things, she created the Bitten line for Steve & Barry’s mass retail chain, but

it stirred up little attention.  The chain itself liquidated in 2008.  Still, Parker has remained upbeat about the opportunities available to her in fashion.

“I’ve always loved beautiful clothes,” she says. “And I love the idea that fashion doesn’t have to be a luxury.”

FASHION IS ESPECIALLY ATTRACTIVE WHEN IT COMBINES HIGH QUALITY WITH REASONABLE PRICES.  HERE ARE SOME GREAT EXAMPLES:

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

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— LOOK FOR TRENDS SURE TO BE PICKED UP BY WOMEN

Women love to copy menswear so, if you want to be really up on what is fashionable, you had better know what is going on in world of men’s couture.  Right now, that is Paris and the big runway shows for men’s designer accessories and clothing.

Trends cross over the men’s and women’s fashion lines with ease.  In the past, they usually only went one way: from menswear to womenswear.  Now, quite a lot of trends are starting up in the women’s camp, and being picked up by men.  It makes for an interesting couture picture!

Moving into Paris, we see lots of trends for the upcoming fall season.  They are dramatic, intense, and on the formal side.  Let’s take a look at the major movers:

Dark Victoriana

BLACK:  Wow!  If you want to adopt just one trend for next autumn, make it black and you will be way up on the fashion agenda.  Black is everywhere! Often, it takes on a post WWII look, mimic-ing the strongly European flavor of the Fifties, only with a slightly more formal tinge.

Paul Helbers, men’s studio director under the artistic direction of Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, takes a handsomely dark route with a men’s ensemble featuring a black houndstooth short coat over tight black pants.

Alber Elbaz and Lucas Ossendrijver put forth a distinctive all-black outfit for Lanvin:  A black silk suit double lashed at the waist and worn under a black wool coat with strong shoulders and satiny lapels.     –No…this isn’t real formal wear, it’s meant for daytime business, although surely more New York than, say, Los Angeles.

And there is still more and more and more on the hot black runway.  At Dior Homme, a Victorian-touched outfit includes a full black suit with slightly shortened pants over shortie black and buckled boots, a big shouldered black raincoat, and a wide and long black wool scarf.  Very refined, citified.

­–At Yves Saint Laurent, more full black outfits included a suit with (eeeeks!) droopy crotch and cinched waist sash.

THE FLEUR-DE-LIS HAS LONG BEEN A CLASSIC FAVORITE SYMBOL IN MENSWEAR.  LOOK AT THESE TERRIFIC VALUES:

British Caps

Toppers, as the Brits might call them, are likewise prominent in menswear for fall.  Very British Isles chic are men’s caps, in solid darks or dark tweeds.  Hermes, for example, showed a good looking tweedy number just made for hiking the Scottish Highlands.

Junya Watanabe embraced trilby hats (like fedoras) for each outfit, some with unexpectedly creative touches.  A black suit, for example, sports motorcycle sleeves and fitted waist, managing to come off with a “made” Wise Guys feeling.

–Berets are yet another important accessory on the menswear line.  Look for them, again, in dark colors, sort of Paris Underground.  Tough.

HATS ARE ALWAYS POPULAR WITH MEN.  LOOK AT THESE FOR GREAT FASHION AT A GREAT PRICE:

Big News

A wide selection of materials was another “big news” fashion factor Paris.  So was an ecclesiastical story, complete with monk’s habits, clergy collars, even ruffled bibs.  Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisei took this so far he even chose Ave Maria to be played while he paraded his collection down the runway.

Then, there were offbeat Givenchy touches, like a gold necklace worn over a white shirt and looking like a bird’s nest.

Belts have never been so big.  These include double wrapped belts galore, some in heavy western-like leather, others in silky sashes.  Many belts also featured hang-offs, like a small flask shown by Dunhill.

Belts tend to underwrite the emphasis on the waist that is very big this year.  At Ann Demeulemeester, a tied and knotted black cording over dropped-crotch gave a new, different look.

Feminine Touches

While much of the fashion seen for fall is literally dripping with testosterone, here and there is an unexpected soft accessory.  For example, Hermes showed a very lacy white Victorian-looking pocket hanky with a tweed jacket, and at Viktor & Rolf, a lacy bib gave an unusual appearance over a dark shirt and pants outfit.

We can’t finish without mentioning all the stripes flashing their way across the men’s fashion scene.  Wide stripes.  Narrow stripes.  Horizontal stripes.  Vertical stripes.  Material cut into stripes.  Can we say any more?

At agnes b., a hooded black sweat with white stripes was a terrific look for fall.  At Dior Homme, material stripes gave a distinctive look to a long over shirt.  At Dries Van Noten, a red and white stripe over a bright blue vest stood out dramatically.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, February 15th, 2010

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So…you’ve got a new kid on the block and she wants to fit in and be popular right away?  No problem!  Accessories to the fore!  Just check out that cute little one and get a feel for who she is and what she likes.  A Princess?  A little Bohemian?  You can give her a special edge, a special look, a kind of “I am an up and coming fashionista” that will make all the other kids in the neighborhood sit up and take notice.  Wow!  We’re on the road to celebrity!

IS SHE A TRENDY KID? Well, then, what’s hot in the adult world?  Scale it down and voila!  You’ve got the cutest, best possible accessories for this little cuddle bug.  All kids want to look like grown-ups!  And, they all have particular fashion stories that appeal most to them. One may love skirts and ruffles.  The other may be in love with jeans and big shirts.

The Gothic kid is especially trendy.  Get in on some products with studs.  Some black stuff.  Add on some wash-away tattoo products for add-on sales! This is a real fun arena for imaginative wardrobe looks.  Think about little black sunglasses for an edgy expression. Bracelets with a cross bones design.  Don’t make anything to macabre…just fun!  Give it all a vroom-vroom motorcycle feel with silver metal, too.

ANOTHER TRENDY LOOK FOR KIDS IS BOHEMIAN.  This is the real GAP KIDS original.  Think in terms of great looking jeans and layered t-shirts with adorable jackets.  Add some chains.  Some fun pins. Caps are a real natural for this look. So are spiffy little scarves. Remember:  A lot of these accessories will be purchased as gifts, so keep the prices reasonable, and dress up the products with a little fancy packaging.  That can be as simple as a brightly colored piece of tissue paper!

HEY, LET’S GET THESE TRENDS ON WITH SOME REAL COOL ACCESSORIES!  TRY THESE:

  • Colored stones kid necklace set.

The CLASSIC Kid: What looks more impressive than a royal child?  Someone who might be wandering around the grounds of Buckingham Palace?  This is a look for the ages!  Colors here are not necessarily more muted, just not so blaring.  Keep to deep greens and wines, whites and pretty tans and pinks.  Anything with pearls gives beauty to this look.  Themes that work well here are floral or fauna.  Little butterflies.  Vines. Posies.

You can also get some great classic looks with less formal accessories.  Jewelry that includes themes that never die:  Little hearts.  Stars.  Circles.  Products that do the trick include sweet chain handle bags and adorable charm bracelets with fun subjects kids will love.

FINDING THE PERFECT GIFT FOR A CHILD IS ONLY A HOPSCOTCH AWAY!  HERE ARE SOME GREAT PRODUCTS TO START WITH:

  • Children’s praying hands jewelry, silver plated with fiber optic beads.
  • Pink cord and beading make up this flower blossom children’s necklace and bracelet.

The PRINCESS:  What little girl doesn’t dream of being a princess?  This one is not so much British, however, it is more the fantastic variety from fairy tale wonder-ment.  Here is the Sleeping Beauty.  Snow White.  Beautiful clothes and lots and lots of glitz and little girl glamour. Tiaras are a natural for this look.  So is anything that shines or glitters or flashes.  Think in terms of ballet costuming.  Beads and faux gemstones make this look a reality.  Bracelets with pretty stones are perfect for a Princess.  So are all kinds of pretty hairpieces and hair accessories.

No little lady would be complete without a charming little handbag, either. Choose one from a bridal collection for real sparkling delight!   — Don’t forget:  These little girls almost invariably wear pierced earrings, and nothing goes better on a princess that pretty little CZ studs in clear or pink!  Wow!

CROWN PRINCESS?  NOW, THAT’S A SPECTACULAR IDEA.  HERE ARE SOME IMAGES FROM THE CLASSICS TO MAKE THE DREAM COME TRUE!

THE RELIGIOUS KID: Holy days and religious rituals make perfect gift giving opportunities for kids. Baptisms, Holy Communions, Confirmations, and Bar Mitzvahs are just a few of the important ceremonial passages many children pass through on their way to adulthood.

If there are other children in the household, don’t leave them out.  Find a small fitting gift to give to them too.  Maybe a little charm for the big sister.  Or a matching cross or Star of David for another sibling.

Religious gifts are also highly desirable for birthdays and graduations.  They may run anywhere from jewelry to small children’s bibles or books on saints.  Putting several different kinds of products together here will often increase the sales you make.   A pretty cross necklace with a little book makes a charming duo…especially popular with children who love to get more than one gift at a time!

Who buys for them?  Parents.  Grandparents.  Aunts and uncles.  That’s who you target!

Everybody enjoys shopping for children.  Even when the primary purchase is for an adult, it isn’t hard to add on a gift for a child.  Have such gifts available all the time, and you’re sure to increase your sales substantially!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Friday, February 12th, 2010

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“All you need is love … All you need is love…                                                                                                All you need is love, love…Love is all you need.”

–Lyrics by The Beatles

WHO KNEW THE BEATLES WERE SO WISE?  IT’S TRUE:  TO BE HAPPY, WE DO NEED LOVE IN OUR LIVES, AND WE NEED TO EXPRESS IT to our nearest and dearest family and friends.  How nice to have a day dedicated to Love!   And, while we show our love in many ways year-round, Valentine’s Day has special cachet, and, along with hugs and kisses, we revel in giving and receiving love-tinged gifts… prized because they are either to or from a loved one.

While Valentine’s Day was originally intended to commemorate the Christian St. Valentine and his martyrdom, over the centuries it has evolved into a more secular holiday, a joyous one, one where you exchange heartfelt sentiment with cards and gifts.  And what is so delightful about Valentine’s Day is that it extends to all kinds of love:   lovers, of course;  but love for children, parents, friends and  relatives—ALL AGES, ALL BACKGROUNDS—EVERYONE IS INCLUDED!   Valentines are the cards of choice for this day, and can range from heady declarations of undying love to lighthearted notes of affection.  What’s especially nice is that the person giving the valentine most likely will also receive one!

Hearts, cupids, bows — Make your special someone happy

Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for so long, and in so many countries around the world, that there are definite traditions:  Pink is the delightful color of the fete; add the red heart form, along with winged angelic cupids or paired love birds to create a truly amorous atmosphere.   Gifts have always been an integral part of this celebration, and originally centered on sweets such as chocolate, and simple flower bouquets.  Today many people choose a gift that will extend the sentiment long after February 14th, such as jewelry or personal accessories that themselves act as valentines, emblazoned with heart or cupid designs.

INSPIRE GIFT-GIVING WITH ITEMS PERFECTLY ATTUNED TO EXPRESSING LOVE ON AND BEYOND FEB.14:

While some couples prefer a private tête-à-tête on Valentine’s Day, there’s something about this feast that prompts people to go out to neighborhood parks or venues, walk about together, holding hands and laughing, exuding the happiness that comes with conveying  love to others.   Love is in the air.  Children romp, and elders beam with having been told, and shown, how much they are treasured.  Whatever the headlines on the news, today is a day for happy smiles and closeness, feelings of belonging and contentment.

Another design popular for Valentine’s Day gifts is that of a LOCK AND KEY, meaning that the recipient of the gift has the key to your heart.   Who wouldn’t delight in receiving this from your heart’s desire?  And, as years go by, every time the item is worn, the original warm feeling surfaces once again.  So Valentine’s Day interrupts the distractions of everyday life, prompting us to pause and seriously think of those who are important to us — and then to convey our loving thoughts to them.   LOVE.  WRITE IT.  GIFT WRAP IT.  SAY IT.  Valentine’s Day traditions insure that we’ll never ever say “Oh, I wish I had told (him/her) how much I care.”

HEARTS WILL FLUTTER WITH THESE VALENTINE TREASURES—PRICED SO RIGHT!

  • Cupid Pin snares Hearts!  Gold plated wings and halo.  Sweet as can be!

Somehow, one can’t help but believe that St. Valentine would enthusiastically approve of how we all celebrate his day.

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Filed under Fashion Marketing
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It is only a three-wheel work van, often fitted like a mini truck, and you could often see them navigating the ancient streets of Italy with work-a-day ease.  Now, however, the upgraded “scooter-van,” called the Ape (English translation, “The Bee”) by Plaggio, is wheeling its way around the fashionable streets of Milan, Rome, and Florence with a whole new personality, and a whole new upgraded role, that of mobile fashion retailer. And is it ever successful!

It’s not in the United States yet, but watch out, people.  It is on the way!

It seems that Valeria Ferlini of Milan got the idea a while back to convert an Ape into a high-end mobile retail unit for her clothing and fashion accessories line, Melandra.  She took out the flowers the Ape had previously hawked, reoutfitted the van, and voila!  A new concept for retail mobility was in the works.

Impulse Purchases

Ferlini felt that customers don’t have time to prepare psychologically for purchases when they are on the street as opposed to being in a store. As a result, they are much more open to “impulse” purchases.  They are also hit with surprise when they find high quality merchandise being sold from a street van.  Not exactly the conventional scenario, but a terrific idea for merchandising with a brand new twist.

HOWEVER AND WHEREVER YOU SELL, QUALITY MERCHANDISE IS ALWAYS DESIRABLE.  HERE ARE SOME PIECES WITH TERRIFIC VALUE:

Ferlini patented the idea with the Ape manufacturer, and is offering customized Apes for a little less than $15,000 at the current exchange. That buys you the mobile van, and a trained driver/sales representative who’ll sell your wares on consignment using the routes and strategies Ferlini has developed over the past few years.  New areas demand new moving systems, obviously, but they can be cleverly put together as the van gets spiffied up and ready to roll.

Now, you might not think too much of the Ape idea at first glance.  After all, we’ve seen push-cart retailing in malls and the likes for some time.  But this fashion brain-child is no slacker.  Ferlini is generating over a million dollars a year, and individual Apes are racking up well over $1,000 a day.  That’s something to make you stop and take notice!

Ferlini now has over 50 “Moving Shop” vans bringing fashion excitement throughout Italy, as well as the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.  She has also started an expansion program for France, and other areas.  On the books, as well:  A move in the near future into the United States.

Guerrilla Marketing

A start-up accessories firm, called Tie-ups, has latched onto the Ape idea as a way of promoting its new and colorful belts.  Apparently less interested in selling belts from the van than creating brand awareness, the company uses the Ape as a guerrilla-style marketing device. The Ape is brought to street fairs and malls, where its back-lit belt displays on three sides and its built-in projector that lights up city walls at night are mesmerizing street customers and pushing brand-awareness to the maximum.

So…why are we talking all about a foreign van and a foreign concept?  Because it looks like it could work magic on the streets of the USA!  Not interested in selling on consignment?  That’s not necessary, either.  Consider this:  Retailers could equip their own van (sorry, Ape) with fashion accessories to take to various spots where large gatherings of potential customers exist.  That means fairs.  Flea markets.  Malls.  Resort areas.  If the people aren’t coming to you, well…you go to the people!

MOBILE MARKETING CAN MEAN EXCELLENT ADDED INCOME FOR YOUR RETAIL OPERATION IF USED EFFECTIVELY.  HERE ARE SOME HI-VALUE ACCESSORIES THAT COULD ADD IMPORTANCE TO YOUR PRODUCT MIX:

MOBILE DESIGN

Ferlini is impressed with the impact selling high-end fashion from a van can have on customers.   But we suggest that so long as the merchandise is stylish and of good quality, the customer-effect can be the same.  Designing the van with handsome illustrations and signage can also work wonders, as would adding pull-out display units and other exciting van embellishments.

Of course, Ferlini’s Apes will soon be offered in the United States, and you can wait for them to arrive, too, as the full package price is admittedly very modest.  One way or the other, it’s a fun idea to know about, and possibly a very profitable one to put into effect for your own retailing!

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Monday, February 8th, 2010

Filed under Mardi Gras
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IT’S MARDI GRAS TIME!  This is February and it commands attention with its celebrations, parties, and parades  all month long up to the final Shrove Tuesday — –or Fat Tuesday as it is also called, which this year lands on February 16thMardi Gras, which actually means Fat Tuesday in French, is a time for fun and excess before the austere Lenten Season sets in on Ash Wednesday.

But Mardi Gras is more, by far, than just enjoyment and merry-making. It is a time unlike any other, filled with color and often weird creations, costumes and masks, secretiveness, banquets, dancing in the streets, non-stop live music, Dixieland bands, and even debauchery.

–Oh, you can be bad, bad, bad…and if you play it right, with costume and mask, nobody will even know it was you.  Is that seductive?

Of course, you really have to go to New Orleans to know Mardi Gras.  While many other cities in the United States celebrate it, nothing compares to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Oh, to be in the French Quarter on February 16th, and to see the grand parade with its indescribably fantastic floats and characters wind its way down Canal Street!  Try to catch some of the colorful beads that are thrown to spectators, they’re an integral part of Mardi Gras tradition.

Businesses and roads almost totally shut down for Mardi Gras in the Big Easy, and just about everybody takes to walking in the streets as hundreds of thousands of tourists pour into the city for the spectacular event.  Street performers add to the carnival spirit as parade after parade revs up the excitement.  Costume balls are innumerable and if you go to New Orleans you’ll surely get into at least one of them.

JOINING IN THE FUN OF MARDI GRAS TAKES TWO IMPORTANT THINGS. ONE, YOU HAVE TO GET IN THE SPIRIT OF THE EVENT.  AND TWO, YOU NEED A MASK!  HERE ARE SOME TO CONSIDER:

Mardi Gras at Universal

Mardi Gras is also celebrated in cities like Galveston, Lafayette (Louisiana), St. Louis, and Pensacola (Florida).  At Universal Studios in Orlando, Mardi Gras is a big event.  Here you’ll find fabulous parades, celebrities galore, and authentic Cajun food to delight your taste buds.

This year Universal is marking “15 years of the biggest party this side of the bayou.”  So, if you can’t make it a little bit farther West to New Orleans where the real action is taking place, well, try Universal for a sample of Mardi Gras fantasia!

Mardi Gras in Rio

Outside of the United States, Mardi Gras spirit is wildly exciting, as well.  In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Carnaval (as it is spelled in Portuguese) is a four day celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday.

Rio’s Samba Parade extravaganza is considered by many to be the greatest show on earth.  It lasts for 20 hours and involves 70 thousand direct participants, not to mention millions of TV spectators around the world.

But Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the real thriller, something everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.  However, if you can’t quite make it this year, think about having a Mardi Gras party in your own home community.  Be sure to include live music (an absolute necessity for any real Mardi Gras party), plenty of good Cajun food, colorful decorations, and costumes, wonderful, extravagant, fabulous costumes.

–Oh, you’re going to really enjoy this one!

YOU CAN MAKE THE MARDI GRAS FESTIVITIES SPECTACULAR!  HERE ARE SOME TERRIFIC ITEMS TO ADD TO THE FUN:

Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Saturday, February 6th, 2010