Barney’s NY – Racial Profiling?

JZ IMAGEWell, the newspapers love good stories and this last week it had a field day here in New York City. It appears that a young African American shopper was buying an expensive belt at Barney’s New York store and was stopped by two plainclothes policemen who questioned him about the purchase. I will spare you the details as I am sure you are up to speed on the idiocy of their interrogation.


Here is the problem that I am having. Barney’s is a retailer who services tens of thousands of customers annually. This incident, and one other that was just reported after the “victim” discovered you can actually sue and make bank for this, seem to be somewhat isolated incidents. I do not imagine that Barney’s has a discriminatory policy against minorities as several of their brands they sell are fashioned for urban youths.


Could this possibly have been extremely poor judgement by the cashier at the store, or the NYPD (they have at times shown lapses in judgement)? I am surprised that the store let the story get away from them by not addressing it immediately. How about some press showing that you are firing the employee (if it were their fault), or questioning the police. But instead Barney’s let the media go into a frenzy, which will probably result in major reputation damage ruining decades of retailing success.


Let’s go even one step further! Now the call is for Jay Z to pull his products from the store! And the poor (not in the cash sense) guy is getting blasted as the bad guy for not lashing out against Barney’s. This is the ultimate in misdirected anger, and of course where there is misdirected anger there is Al Sharpton.


I am certain that Jay Z is not the only African American designer with products in Barney’s and the onus is not on him to police the apparent one, possibly two, poor judgements against shoppers – which we still do not know was because of the clerk or the police department. I agree that IF Barney’s has a discriminatory policy against any race or religion they would deserve the wrath of Sharpton and his crusaders, but I believe this is far from the case here.


As retailers, we can all learn a valuable lesson from this episode. First and foremost don’t discriminate and more importantly react quickly when an employee or an outside entity does something to damage your reputation and your business. By Barney’s not hitting this problem on the head immediately it has spun into a media nightmare for them, and one that will not go away easily. All it would have taken is for this mega corporation to get in front of the story, which they did not.


What do you think?







Economic Woes Continue – Antacid Sales Skyrocket!

wholesale merchandiseWell, there is no doubt that the recent economic woes caused by the Government shut down and idiocy on  Capital Hill have created anxiety for small retailers and wholesale merchandise suppliers, I found the following interesting news worth sharing with you.


The latest issue of MMR ran a large article on drugs and vitamins and their increases in the industry. Lo and behold one of the largest growth markets has been the Antacid market which has grown to over $93 million in sales with some brands showing as much as a 74% increase in growth!


Could this be related to the economy? Like a bad sit-com where the boss is swigging Pepto at his desk, there could certainly be a correlation to these numbers and reality. Let’s look further – the personal adult market has decreased over 6% but sleeping aids are up over 28%. Do the math. The country’s population is suffering from indigestion, having less sexual activity and having trouble sleeping!


Thank you, Mr. President and all our favorite Congresspeople. The takeaway from this article is that your store should be stocking up on Tums and Gas X to keep your cash registers ringing.


Just some things to consider from the leading magazine for wholesale merchandise, Retailers Forum. Thanks for reading and hopefully you’ve enjoyed this little insight.



Smartphones Gaining Retail Dominance

wholesale merchandiseAn interesting new study has been released that shows consumers are using their smartphones and tablets as shopping tools at a higher rate than reported previously. Over 55% of all retail-related internet time is starting on a smartphone or tablet as opposed to a desktop computer system.


Interestingly though, consumers were less likely to complete a shopping transaction on their smartphones and completed those transactions while on their desktops. Clothing and accessories were the category leaders for online shopping.


The motivation for the use of mobile devices has been shoppers who are “show-rooming,” looking for cheaper prices while inside the store! Almost 2/3rd’s of the users were visiting the stores website or APP while they were inside the store, to see if there were online discounts, etc. They went online in hopes of finding a better deal.


Another interesting fact was that men outpace women in making mobile purchases using their smartphones, indicating that they may be more trustful of using mobile devices to transmit credit card data, etc.


Welcome to retailing in the 21st century. Highly competitive in every way with margins cut to the quick for the retailer. Good times!  Retailers Forum magazine and website welcomes your comments and opinions. Feel free to comment on this article and others. Remember to join us every month for the best wholesale merchandise sources in the industry!





NYC Wholesale Expo – 2 Day Format

NYC-Wholesale-Expo-Sept-2013-0101Just back from the NY Wholesale Expo at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Having done wholesale merchandise shows in New York I realize the need for this wonderful regional show to connect wholesalers and east coast buyers and couldn’t be happier that the New York show tradition continues.


Over the last several years there has been a lot of changes in the merchandise shows around the country. There is a resurgence of regional shows that are doing very well across the country and while the shows bring in less traffic than the mega-shows in Las Vegas, they are quite important to the local regional markets.


NYC Wholesale Expo Sept 2013 002One of the major changes for the NY Wholesale Expo was the creation of a 2-day trade show instead of the standard 3-4 days. This is unique and I have not seen this done before, so asked several of the wholesalers at the show how they felt about it. The response was overwhelming that as long as they got orders from the show, they were ecstatic about being able to compress 3-4 days into 2. And from what I was able to view at my day at the show, there was excellent order writing so I think most exhibitors were happy about the shortened show time.


Personally, on smaller regional shows, this new format is ideal for both the buyers and sellers. Having two days to explore the smaller show leaves plenty of time to view all of the merchandise as well as interact with the exhibitors. Being someone that drives in and uses the local lot for $50 a day, cutting a couple of days off the show can save money also!


Congratulations to the NYC Wholesale Expo for pioneering a new concept in shorter, more intense trade shows and for continuing to develop the New York City market, which we feel is one of the most viable in the USA!


What did you think about the show, or the new 2-day schedule. Blog with us!



How Is Your Store Doing?


wholesale merchandise shoppingWell, we are getting set for the last quarter and that is the time that all retailers look forward to, as they do a bulk of their business at this time. The reports in the news and trades show that the economy has improved somewhat and that consumers have been going through spending spurts.


The holiday season has always been successful for retailers, regardless of the economic climate. While the large mega-stores get upset by not posting gains, the small independent retailer is happy to clear their shelves and move inventory for the last quarter. All that the retailer wants to see is profits at the end of the year and this is the time that with proper marketing and merchandising he will be able to see that!


Your merchandise mix is extremely important to your sales success. Having the right blend of merchandise at the right prices is going to dictate how you do this season. Many retailers have been using our wholesale merchandise magazine, Retailers Forum, to find merchandise, as well as visiting all the popular trade shows.


Now is the time of the year to start your holiday marketing programs and promotions. The more you promote your store the more sales you will have. Make sure you take full advantage of the inexpensive social marketing that you can be doing for your business. This is a good time to update your customers mailing list info, email addresses, twitter accounts or whatever to get the word out…. We’re here and ready for business!



Showrooming – A New Twist!

window-shopping1Well, just when I thought I’d seen it all with regards to “showrooming” — you know what that is – when shoppers come into your store to view the goods and then search online for it to get it cheaper and make the purchase elsewhere.


Many of the larger retailers have started changing the SKU numbers so that shoppers cannot easily search online for the items, but we all know that a good description will turn up the item online. So, what to do? Some retailers trail behind the shoppers interacting with them and in my opinion that makes for an unpleasant shopping experience for many of them. Aside from getting into the shoppers face when they jot down the item there really hasn’t been a good solution.


Today I read the ultimate solution – and it really is a crazy idea that only seems to have been tried overseas. Pay to browse!


At the Vera Wang bridal boutique in Shanghai, customers must pay 3000 yuan (approx. $480 US) for a 90 minute time slot to browse and try on dresses. There is also a food store in Australia that charges customers $5 for coming in to browse.


Could you imagine your store implementing this policy? Seems that these fees are quite drastic and not really the answer to keeping brick and mortar stores around. Educating the consumers is key here — they need to understand that if they like their local neighborhood or chain stores to go shopping in – they need to do just that — SHOP!


Retailers Forum welcomes your two cents! Please share with our readers your ideas and opinions.



New Small Business Regulatory Website

small wholesale merchandise businessesHouse Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today announced “Small Biz Reg Watch”, a new initiative of the Committee to help small businesses participate in the development of federal regulations.  An online resource on the Committee’s website will highlight proposed regulations that could impact small companies and instruct business owners on how they can make comments to the federal agency considering the proposed regulation. 


“Most small businesses don’t have lawyers or lobbyists who focus on regulatory compliance, like larger corporations may have,” said Chairman Graves. “Therefore, our Committee wants to help them participate in the federal government rule-making process. Not all regulations are bad, but many can be unnecessarily burdensome and it is important that small companies express their concerns before a rule is finalized. Because small businesses bear a regulatory cost that is much higher than the cost of compliance for large businesses, our Committee wants to help small companies make their voice heard as federal regulations are being considered.” 


“Yesterday, we saw our economy contract and produce its worst quarter in 4 years. Exports are falling and small businesses are sputtering under harmful government regulations. It’s important that we communicate to Washington and its regulators that there are real negative impacts and consequences to over-regulating,” said Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Chairman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations. “This new initiative will keep small businesses current with the goings on in the regulatory community and ensure they have the opportunity to contribute as new regulations are being formulated and applied.”


The Committee will regularly communicate with small businesses via email, social media, and through district events around America when new comment periods begin for select proposed rules that impact a wide array of small businesses.  Since becoming the lead Republican on the Small Business Committee, Chairman Graves has built a large database of small businesses with which he communicates regularly.


The website URL:

Retailers Forum magazine, leader in wholesale merchandise is happy to share this exciting and helpful website to you!



Showrooming — How Is Your Store Dealing With This Problem?

showrooming merchandise

SHOWROOMING is a relatively new term in the retailing industry. Time was when a showroom was the area where you went to see the merchandise and then whipped out your wallet and bought it.


Today you go to the showroom (a store) and view the merchandise but then whip out your smart phone, scan the bar code on the product and then go to the closest store selling it cheaper to buy it.


This has become a huge issue for many retailers, large and small. Best Buy is consistently used as a showroom for internet shoppers who seem to not get the buying experience of “feeling and touching” the merchandise when they go to the online stores. So, instead, they head over to local stores to “sample” the merchandise and then if they like it they purchase online or scan the barcode to find it cheaper in the neighborhood. And, many times they are saving only a few dollars, but are ruining the core business of the stores they do this at.


To combat showrooming many retailers have been asking their suppliers to use special proprietary bar codes that are inter-store only. In other words a Best Buy’s items may be bar coded with their own sku’s – making it impossible to shop the same item out of the store using the bar code. Of course, this only slows down the perpetrator, as let’s face it all you need to do is type in the name of the item into Google and you’re off to the races.


Is the customer always right? If you see someone scanning codes at your store would you stop them? Would you say something? All of these shoppers love the idea of having their local hometown stores along Main Street, but at the end of the day they want cheaper prices. Just another dagger in the independent store owner’s heart.


Is your store having any issues with this problem, and if so, how are you combating it. Share this with our readers.




Something Rotten At Apple?

Look, I am an Apple fan – I really do like my iPhone and have stuck with the “4” for a couple of years. What I do have some issues with is the company itself and the fact that over the years we have read much about the mistreatment of workers at their Foxconn plant in China.


We reported over a year ago about worker suicides at the plant because of poor conditions and treatment of the workers. Underpaid and overworked was the theme and Apple promised to do something about it – and they did by increasing salaries for the workers which were higher than other Chinese factories. It still begs the point that while they threw a few dollars at the workers to slightly increase their pay the monotony of the job still at low pay was an issue.


But things quieted down as we figured it would – Apple has a way to seemingly control their bad press. Until recently when because of high demand for the new iPhone the workers were pushed to their limits of production and riots ensued at the Foxconn factory. Last week it was also reported that some laborers being used to assemble iPhones were as young as 14-years-old. What child labor laws?


Well, here is the issue that I have that may spark some commentary. Apple is not the only company outsourcing so they can make their products as cheaply as possible and sell it for as much as possible. What do you think it costs over in China to make our $600 iPhone? The margins on these electronics is incredible and THESE are the types of manufacturing jobs that should be brought back to the USA. Not assembling dollar store merchandise that NEEDS to be made super cheaply – but items like what Apple sells and what Coach handbags sells. I read today that Coach is considering moving their operations out of China because the wages are too high! The average factory worker makes less than $200 a MONTH! A typical Coach Handbag can sell for $1500 or more. How many handbags can a laborer make in an entire month?


GREED is what it is all about. How come when the politicians are squawking about outsourcing and how America’s losing jobs they are not citing companies like Apple or Coach or the others who profit by selling millions of dollars of goods to good old Americans. These high end brands can more readily afford to move jobs back to the USA because they have the margins. It really just comes around to making money- and as much of it as possible. I have nothing against making money and understand the buy low, sell high theory. It annoys me when both Presidential candidates bandy about bringing home the jobs from overseas and do not cite anything specific.


Obviously Americans are not going to work for $50 a week in a factory – but there was a time pre-China, pre-Vietnam and pre-Indonesia where American factories did hire Americans and paid a fair wage for their services. Outsourcing is not going away and until we figure out what kind of jobs should return to America it’s a great deal of rhetoric.


What do you think?


NYC Premiere of Glam Fairy – Season Two

Victoria, Forum Publisher Martin Stevens, Sharie ManonBling, accessories and cosmetics are big in retailing and getting bigger every season. A testament to the cosmetics and beauty industry is the show Glam Fairy, which became an instant Style Network TV hit last year when Sharie Manon (from Jerseylicious fame) developed the show.


An award winning hairstylist and creative director with over 20 years in the industry, Shari celebrated the show’s second season at a gala event in New York City October 7th. The event featured celebrities and well-wishers as the stars of the show were welcomed with red carpet treatment prior to viewing season two’s first episode downstairs at the venue in a special VIP room.


Forum Publishing Company director Martin Stevens was delighted to meet Sharie and her newest associate Victoria Doroshenko (pictured). With the success of Sharie’s program and the massive following she has in the beauty industry it is apparent that the beauty/hair care categories will remain extremely strong in the marketplace.