To Everything There Is a Season; Now Is the Time for Goodbye
Two years before he launched his own warehouse club, Sam Walton turned to me during an NMRI cocktail party in San Diego and asked what I thought of the locally based Price Club.
Ed Finkelstein’s minions threatened to throw me out of an R. H. Macy annual meeting for daring to take pictures of the chief executive.
Two years before J.C. Penney began its turnaround by hiring Allen Questrom, the first outsider ever named CEO of the then 99-year-old company, I editorialized about the need for a fresh approach, that Penney should hire an outsider. I wrote, “I nominate Allen Questrom.”
Over the last three decades I’ve encountered many of the best and most famous merchants. I’ve observed their executive skills up close and, equally if not more importantly, how their visions translated into realities at store level. It’s been a trip of unparalleled experiences.
It comes to an end, in its current incarnation, with this issue. After 32 years tracking the retail industry, almost exclusively for Chain Store Age, I am leaving the business of publishing a magazine, a Web site and four e-newsletters, along with organizing annual conferences, including our signature SPECS event.
I started at Lebhar-Friedman in March 1977 as a field editor for Nation’s Restaurant News. I’d left my newspaper bureau chief job four months earlier. I intended to stay long enough to land another spot on a “legitimate” newspaper.
But the business world seduced me, as did my ascension to editor, and then publisher, of Chain Store Age General Merchandise Trends (1978-1987) and then Chain Store Age Executive, now known simply as Chain Store Age (1988-2009).
Retailing and publishing have undergone vast sea changes during those 32 years. They’re both going through another period of transformation. I’ve seen many iconic retail nameplates disappear—from Woolworth to Circuit City. But I’ve also witnessed the growth and success of such game-changing companies like The Home Depot, Whole Foods Market, Zappos, Kohl’s, and of course, Wal-Mart. I look forward to seeing how these chains will continue to innovate as they move forward.
Yes, these are difficult times for merchants. But when I look out at the retail landscape, I see many exciting things happening, new concepts taking hold and new leaders emerging. At the same time, many retailers are taking giant leaps as they reach out for new ways to connect with customers in a digital age. All of these developments, from new formats to new communication platforms, are crucial to the future of the retail industry, and I guarantee you that Chain Store Age will continue to keep readers informed and updated on the latest retail happenings, both in print and online.
It has been Chain Store Age’s task to chronicle the achievements and disappointments of the retail industry. Under my stewardship we initiated sweeping consumer and trade research studies, partnered with leading consulting companies on special reports (emulated by other publishing enterprises), and created niche conference programs to complement SPECS, still the best event for executives involved in store planning, construction and facilities.
I am most proud of the many associates who worked with me. It is my selfish, prideful hope that in some small measure the efforts under my leadership have benefited you, your company and the retail industry. I am humbled by the support and acceptance I have received over the years and welcome any dialogue you might want to continue at my new e-mail address, [email protected].
Amazon.com introduces kitchenware collection by Tom Douglas
SEATTLE Amazon.com debuted Tom Douglas by Pinzon, a collection of kitchen utensils and tools, cutlery, cookware, grilling tools and wine accessories designed by Tom Douglas, a renowned Seattle chef, restaurateur and author.
Tom Douglas by Pinzon is available exclusively at Amazon.com at amazon.com/tomdouglas. Tom Douglas by Pinzon also offers signature pieces from top brands, including Nachtmann by Riedel, Microplane, Lodge, Epicurean, Kai, Wenger and Dexter-Russell.
“By working with Amazon to design great cooking tools, and introducing at-home chefs to some of the techniques I use personally, I hope to inspire confidence in the kitchen,” Douglas said. “I spent two years hand-selecting and testing everything in my own kitchen, and I’m excited to share these new products with Amazon customers.”
Office Depot unveils new chair line
BOCA RATON, Fla. Office Depot has introduced a new assortment of chairs, branded “RealSpace,” designed for business professionals.
The furniture line is available in three categories — entry-level, mid-level and professional — and is available at more than 1,100 Office Depot retail store locations in the U.S. and online at www.officedepot.com/furniture.
Chairs in the RealSpace entry-level category range in price from $49 to about $99 and are geared toward customers looking for a low-cost option and are not planning on sitting for long periods of time. Items in the mid-level category range from $129 to $249 and have extra features to improve comfort. The professional category is the top of the line and includes features ideal for professionals sitting eight or more hours a day. The chairs in professional category are priced from $179 to $350.
“Our research shows that today’s business professionals are increasingly investing in desk chairs for their homes and offices,” said Lee Pell, VP merchandising for Office Depot. “Our customers are realizing the importance of choosing a workspace that is functional, fashion-forward and most importantly ergonomic. For that reason, Office Depot has developed a wide range of seating options — all of which are focused on today’s aware and smarter buyer.”