Archive for the ‘Retailer Review’ Category

Kmart selling product obtained from Bankrupt retailers.

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 1.48.34 PMWhat a sad state of affairs for retail. Considered once as a leading retailer has now become a vulture circling dying retailers. Good for the customer? Hardly. If it did not sell and keep another retail alive what is going to make if more successful at Kmart? Price, but the consumer will be purchasing faulty, inferior, out of fashion items and to those who hard press to buy family essentials, I get it. But now think about the impact this has on the Vendors that supply Kmart with product. Their orders are not cut to zero which will put that level of retail into a need to sell off manufactured goods. So Mr., Vendor, we know Walmart was built on Vendor relations and that is why they were and remain great. Vendors need to give TJX, Marshalls, Family Dollar and those retailers their deliveries first, their best items and focus on a partner retailer not a retailer that is desperate to stay alive.

I am happy that Macy’s will follow my advice and keep off price within the main store.

Monday, November 16th, 2015

I am glad that Macy’s took my advice in my blog and linkedin post. Stay true to your core customer and moving off price to a remote locations is not a good idea for a multitude of reasons.
The thought to lead your core customer out the door and down the street to an off price location was against all retail principles.
Now to provide an area in the store where price driven shoppers who want branded items ( Marshal’s customer and TJX ) will appreciate this option. And most probably while in the store will pick up a few full price items as well.
The logistics to get vendors to buy into selling Macy’s closeout items over the Marshall’s volume potential due to the bulk of their locations would have been interesting.
Now Macy’s does not need to worry about filling an off price store off location with product similar to Target or Walmart due to price point restrictions. Another battle Macy’s would not win nor set up to wage.
I like this new reversal and believe it will be a winner.

Trump and Confederate Flag go down in a blaze of glory

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

trump 2Two brands or iconic symbols shot and now missing in action this week.
First the confederate flag became a topic that most retailers and media dropped like a lead ballon. Why?
The topic has been debated back and forth by many this week.
Perhaps we need to revisit the American Flag and remember “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the U.S.A. And to the Republic, for which is stands, ( and goes on to define what it stands for )
Now here comes another flag,a symbol of another nation who at the time had a specific “for which it stands “ and for over 160 years our nation has worked to put that behind us. Any reminder of that mentality apparently promotes feelings in the ignorant individuals that cannot get over the fact that they lost the war and the “one nation under god” got the help from a higher power which assisted in the victory. So retailers, I salute you for a quick and decisive move to eliminate one more reminder of what should not have been and to support what we are constantly striving to achieve in our society “for liberty and justice for all”.
As for the Trump brand, well that is another story. Can’t argue honesty is the best policy. Can’t take away anyones right to say what they believe to be true. What concerns me and remains a gray area, is that several high end apparel designers recently came out with anti gay and anti transgender comments which were meant to be hurtful. Yet D&C, and others are still on the shelves of certain retailers in spite of crossing the line of decency. So why was Trump removed. Having been actively involved with Licensing and Brands, it could have been the easiest way to get out of a non lucrative contract due to poor performance. Just a guess, because the world in truth will not miss seeing Trump product in the stores. What will become interesting is if by some weird set of circumstances if a peanut farmer could win, Trump could win the White House. If Trump wins will retailers make bottom line decisions disguised to be made for hot topic and will this product find itself back on the shelf? My guess is yes.

Walmart looking for New York City location, Maybe?

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Crains, Retail current projects news had the good fortune to have worked along side Sam Walton on several retail design and planning projects for Walmart. Mr. Sam, as his associates addressed him as , was a people person and had the utmost respect for his employees, customers and business associates. He knew his success would be based on everyone who was involved with the effort should benefit from the relationship.His values were reinforced every week at their company meetings discussing the importance of a greeter at the front door and how to treat and service the neighborhood where the store was located. That description does not resemble today’s Walmart  to me especially when Lee Scott makes a statement like that opening a Walmart store in New York City was not “worth the effort.”Walmart can afford to do anything they want in one location, this is proven by the many one of a kind prototypes they have designed over the years for the sake of just testing an idea. So what is so hard about entering into NYC when their competitors such as Target, Kmart, Costco and others have all found a way to be of service to our community. Could it be they are afraid of the ripple affect should the union become an issue? Mr. Sam would never have thought twice about doing what was right for the general public.It is amusing to me that Vermont, a state known for their values and beliefs on what makes a better life today was the last hold out for Walmart to penetrate. Vermont did not want traffic, pollution, big parking lots, but rather was very happy with the Momma Poppa way of doing business which was one of the many elements that made the state appealing. Walmart spent a lot of money in public relations, lobbyist and donations to get that store open.That store was not a standard sized store but rather undersized  to compromise with the Vermont dictate, but never the less they agreed and opened that store. Why? Perhaps to be able to say that Walmart was now in all 50 states.Well I ask Walmart, would you like to be where everyone knows,”If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”? or are we not that important enough to make the effort.This current Walmart philosophy is so counter Mr. Sam’s values that perhaps all us New Yorkers are better off if Walmart never comes to the Big Apple.Jerry Birnbach Retailers for a better

Retailers can do more for Earth Day -reject plastic

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Every year for Earth Day I make a resolution to help the planet. Do you remember what life was like before we had plastic in our pockets?

Much simpler before because you had to use paper. The advantages of paper were many including if it fell on the street you were sure someone would pick it up and save the landscape. When you ran out of paper in your pocket you stopped distributing it until you had more paper. You never had a problem with being declined or transaction wouldn’t go through.


Today the plastic is a real menace.It does not shut down and you use it over and over never considering the impact on the environment or your closet.

What is the carbon footprint that plastic leaves behind? Constantly transmitting  to the plastic credit company requiring lots of electrical equipment and power to process.


Our Health Plans are more costly because people feel faint when they find out how much plastic they used each month. If your card falls on the floor, it won’t be picked up because everyone knows you shut it down when it was lost. Let’s not discuss recycling the plastic every year when a new one comes. Cutting a plastic card in half is not the first step to a clean planet. Now how about the fact that the footprint which the plastic leaves is a recording of every store you visited, every vacation you ever took, every gift and telephone call you ever made. That’s a little too much information sharing especially when it starts to show up on automatic Card company Tweets. What is more disheartening is the fact that the plastic company knows more about you than you do. So this year I am all about paper and not plastic in my pocket.


Imagine the impact this would have in retail design and display when planning the checkout counters?

Kmart announces new brand for tweens

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I hope that Kmart does not do their famous put the new brand on a rounder or faceouts , add a photo of the talent and expect it to fly out the door. As a Store Designer and intimately involved with the Isaac Mizrahi roll out in Target I know what it takes to have a brand succeed. This brand needs to appeal to a demographic who have mixed feelings about being seen in Kmart shopping for apparel. It has never been cool and if Kmart wants the girls to show up, a full blown visual merchandise and display presentation, visual impact all need to be present.I have said it before that Kmart is on its seventh life and unless they start to establish an identity and come up with fresh innovative concepts they are going to use up their remaining lives quickly. I wish them well and hope they understand what is at stake here.Jerry Birnbach F.I.S.P.RDD Associates Store Design and DisplayRetailers for a better tomorrow blogger

Saks plans to close two stores and increase gross profit margin in the others

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

If ever there was a plan devised to fail, the Saks concept to ride the poor economic trend seems doomed. Mass retailers can play with gross profit margin because their price driven customers will tolerate the end results. How is Saks going to get higher gross out of designer brands?


 Convince the Designers to sell it to them for less? Don’t think so.

 Invent their own private label with price points equal to current designer names? That’s one way if they have a design staff to create the line, and that cost is not cheap.

 Cut the quality of the manufacturing to insure higher GPM? Not going to get away with that because their customers will not tolerate it and will see it coming from a mile away.


I just hope that Saks, which has always been a retailer to respect and emulate, can focus on the business and cut overhead, hire superior staff who can drive sales, redo the stores so they are energy efficient  and realize the solution is not in the product. Their product is not broken, so why fix it.


They are playing in the highest level of retail and need to find a way that the customer cannot see the cost savings while walking the sales floor. We need Saks and I hope they see they might have taken the wrong turn in the road.


Jerry Birnbach F.I.S.P.

Partner RDD Associates Inc. Store Designer NYC

Retailers for a better tomorrow blog

KMART Looks to build Fashion Cred

Friday, March 26th, 2010

I have been following the progress of KMART since 1980 and they have never gotten it right in all these years. During hard times for KMart there was no money to revamp the stores and bring them up to par with Target or Walmart. Unfortunately, they do not have a model in Sears as to how ready-to- wear should be presented as “the other side of Sears” has not gained traction in ten years.The answer is either bite the bullet and believe that a REAL Change will make a significant difference in the all so important category to the bottom line.. Apparel.The answer is simple. As Store Planner for over thirty years I have looked to exclusive solutions to secure brand recognition. KMart needs to invest in unique display systems, stay away from stock solutions and create a look that is right for them. The formula is not difficult but it is very hard to accomplish from the inside as politics often cramps the creative process. Dollars will always play a factor but you do not have to spend a lot to look new and fresh. My intuition tells me that KMart has used up at least seven lives and running out of chances to finally do it right and build customer CRED.Jerry Birnbach F.I.S.P.Partner RDD Associates Inc Store Designer NYCRetailers for a better tomorrow blogger

Retail Brand leader goes to Target with Walmart number two

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

I recently did a review for a vendor of the number one and number two retailer referenced in this article. Based on my review of Walmart verses Target the order of best was reversed. Target should be number one, not based on volume but on the shopping experience.Having a long relationship with both retailers and experienced the evolution of their store presentation and product offering I think Target has been proactive in their thinking and Walmart reactive.Target has been a sea of red when you entered their store. In concert with their advertising they consistently have a brand recognition without the name even visible. The interior of Target is upscale, they used slat wire units before Walmart. Their graphics are well defined, depict the lifestyle they stand for and have expressed their message to the consumers for years. When Isaac Mizrahi was introduced to Target, it changed the world of Branding in Mass retail. Walmart looking for an answer to Target’s Isaac over a year later landed on George by Me, created by a top designer Mark Eisen. Although the product was innovative, the line was hindered by a reorganization at Walmart which led to the brands demise.Walmart has now introduced a more upscale flooring material. Walmart has become a sea of blue obviously to compete against the color red. Walmart have gone to yet another department sign system which has a very “cheap” look to it. Creativity lacks in a Walmart Store while it reeks in a Target Store. I understand that cost is a major consideration is Walmart, but Target works under the same restraints and pays attention to detail in their display presentation. Walmart uses extrusions, molded clips, mass produced display elements which are very constructional in nature. I think their customer is sophisticated enough to recognize mediocre design solutions. Sure it keeps product pricing down and perhaps that is acceptable to their consumers.One could never take away the success Walmart has enjoyed over many years and certainly they are a power to reckon with. I lived Walmart in the 70;s and 80’s when Mr. Sam was taking hold of the industry. He was innovative, he was a people person and he had relationships with vendors which led to their overwhelming success.What Target has done in my mind was to reach out to the Department store customer who felt the pinch of the economy and make them feel that shopping at Target was not a radical step down from Macy’s.Walmart’s message, in my eye, is they are representing a step up from Family Dollar. As the two approach the middle of the off price retail spectrum it will be interesting to see who leads the way and wins those customers. Will price prevail or will style win over.Jerry Birnbach F.I.S.P.Partner rddassociatesinc Store Planners NYC

Crain’s NY 3-14, New wave of foreign retailers invades NY

Monday, March 15th, 2010

I do believe, as an industry consultant for Store Design and Display, that there is much more to the explanation why foreign retailers are gaining market share from the American retailers.To me it is a multitude of factors that make up the success of a product line, but at the end of the day it is style and quality. To satisfy all the customers all of the time is an unrealistic objective for retailers. To satisfy most of the consumers most of the time is more likely to be achieved.What has made apparel retailers successful is understanding their brand’s point of difference, knowing what their customer wants and delivering quality goods.To say a foreign influence is the main cause for the change in consumers attitude is a stretch. To say it is style, design, price, ease of shopping, better instore visual presentation, quality and advertising is closer to the truth.H&M delivered an upscale looking store priced like Old Navy to be disposable clothing year after year.The H&M and Old Navy approach is right for many shoppers but is of little interest to the department store customer that wants a unique offering.Therefore, set your sights on keeping your customer base with a line that meets their needs and wants which are constantly subject to change. Whether it is a poor economy forcing price to dictate, or a green movement to define a person as a caring, retailers need to go with the flow in order to just be able to stay in place.Unfortunately, to clothing brands, safe has only one advantage to them. Safe reduces their risk with the wrong style, or color, or size offering. Safe however increases the potential of customers turning to a retailer that has provided the right product for the times.The Gap’s former success was based on less is more and America bought into it. Change is the backbone of the American economy and as American brands took the safe road from change to no change, the path became wide open for the foreign brand to infiltrate the American market .Is it too late for American retailers to do something about the current trend? No if they want to be around in five years.You’ve heard of Ford and GM, remember when they owned the automobile industry? Foreign alternatives came in and knew the American publics needs better than the American companies. American retailers better spend more time asking their customers what they want as well as trying new things to test the next trend.Their is no room for complacency in retail and the retail store brands as we know it today  go the way of the typewriter if they continue to sit on their hands.Jerry Birnbach F.I.S.P.Partner RDD Associates Inc. Store Planners