Spring 2007 Trendspotting
From cupcakes to digital displays
The parent company of Camille’s Sidewalk Café, which entrepreneur David Rutkauskas grew from a single cart in the Woodland Hills Mall in 1996 to a franchise with more than 100 locations (about 10 percent kiosks) in 35 states, has announced its latest franchise concept: Coney Beach. Described as a retro style, beach-inspired hot dog and burger joint, Rutkauskas expects 100 Coney Beach stores by 2009, the vast majority 2,500-3,000 s/f in-lines and possibly a number of carts or kiosks (final plans are in the works). Camille’s Sidewalk Café has experienced phenomenal success, with projected sales of $100 million by 2008. Rutkauskas hopes to repeat that success with Coney Beach.
Music With a Message
If your customers are parents—or kids—Music Talking has released its second set of CDs that use classic songs like Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” to teach kids values and goals. The latest CD, “Friends and Relationships,” with songs like “Lean On Me,” started shipping in February. The first Music Talking release, “Goals and Values,” won the National Parenting Publications Gold award in 2006.
Cupcake Beach Rises
Renowned Florida chef Andi Bell has baked up his latest creation: a cupcake kiosk in the local lifestyle center, Destin Commons. Varieties include “Ultimate Sin” (apple with praline cream cheese icing) and “Earl Grey on Sunset Beach” (Earl Grey tea and orange, with orange buttercup icing).
Cupcakes sell for $3.50 each, or $39/dozen. Gift cupcakes, wedding cupcakes, cupcake trees and cupcake towers are also available.
Bell has been named a “Rising Star in American Cuisine” and says his Cupcake Beach kiosk is a natural extension of his cupcake-baking passion. “My focus for years has been in creating Gulf Basin Coastal Cuisine,” Bell says. “However, with the birth of my now five-year-old daughter, I found a new passion for baking cupcakes—traditional and unique flavors alike. The kiosk was a great opportunity to introduce my innovative culinary creations and at the same time reach new customers.”
R/C Mini Helis Take Off
Shoppers continue to go nuts for remote-control toys, among them the Picco Z Mini Heli shown here. Introduced in 2006, the Picco Z quickly became wildly popular in Europe and Japan, selling more than a million units. It’s now available to US specialty retailers through HobbyTron. Each highly maneuverable Picco Z is ready-to-fly out of the box, with a two-channel, infrared controller that allows for left, right, up and down movements. Widely regarded as an “indoor mini heli,” the Picco Z is the latest “must have” for gadget-loving customers of all ages.
Art for Art’s Sake
Gelaskins aren’t just for art afficianados, although they’ll certainly appreciate these art-inspired iPod skins. From the classic masters to today’s cutting-edge graffiti artists, there’s a Gelaskin for every aesthetic.
There’s been a big increase in the use of digital displays in malls—and on carts and kiosks—over the last few years. Cart and kiosk manufacturers are now integrating digital displays into their designs, and a host of companies including Display Kinetics and Fairfield Displays offer a range of digital display options for merchants and malls that want to capture the consumer’s attention and drive sales. For those needing wireless digital display setups, Helius has announced a major new signage solution based in 3G cellular technology.
Helius cellular digital signage connects the mall or retail location to the Internet using wireless hardware, and all digital content is received wirelessly, connecting to Sprint’s high-speed cellular network. The system makes rapid deployment of digital signage networks much easier for shopping centers and retailers. Standard electric wall outlets are necessary, but no custom cabling or network wiring is required.
And body art to Indian decor
Our celebrity culture has kicked it up a notch. Filthy Rich Celebrity Jewelry licenses exclusive territories for retailers to sell historic replicas of rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces worn by celebrities from Hollywood’s golden era to the stars of today. Every piece has a special history—a movie star or celebrity wore it in a world-famous movie, at an Academy Awards presentation or another event. These are not “knockoffs” but designs fully licensed through celebrity trusts and foundations. From Vivian Leigh’s earrings in Gone With the Wind to Jackie Kennedy’s engagement ring and Salvador Dali’s signature brooch, there are hundreds of celebrity-inspired pieces from which to choose. Retail prices are typically $30 to $90 per piece. The company is currently licensing its turnkey kiosk concept to independent specialty retailers as exclusive territories.
Stickers + Sun = Body Art
Tan Art says it has “the hottest new trend in body art to come along in decades” with these “magical tanning stickers.” Your customers buy them, wear them for a day, remove them and then watch as their body art tattoo turns darker and darker over the next 24 hours. The final (non-toxic) “tanning tattoo” will last for days.
Prepaid Wireless Demand Up
More than 200 million cell phones are in use in the US, but “over 40 percent of consumers who apply for a [wireless service] contract are denied,” says David Stanek, CEO of prepaid wireless provider Airlink Mobile. Thanks to that denial rate, the prepaid wireless market, which targets youth, low-income and credit-challenged Americans, is seeing record growth, he adds. In the last nine months of 2006, Airlink’s sales were up more than 800 percent. Prepaid wireless is smart business for specialty retailers because these products typically offer higher margins than many of the large wireless carriers, Stanek says. Many prepaid wireless companies want to partner with specialty retailers in malls, airports and other high-traffic retail venues. Some companies focus on distributing to carts and kiosks, including DirectConnect (www.directconnectnow.com), a New York-based Airlink Mobile distributor. Magic Pins a Philadelphia-based wireless distribution company founded in 2005, currently distributes to about 120 carts and kiosks.
“We have made it a point to service an overlooked niche, and we are seeing the rewards from that in a huge way,” Stanek says of Airlink. “Our biggest challenge right now is keeping up with both consumer and retailer demand.”
$57 Million Trend
“Conscientious consumerism” has taken root, with sales of products containing ethical elements expected to top $57 billion in 2011, according to a new report from Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com. Although the majority of those products focus on foods/organics, a variety of product manufacturers are creating entirely new “ethical lines.” Kvale Good Natured Games recently introduced its “sustainable board game,” Head1Liners, in which players compete to write attention-getting headlines. All game elements are made from 100 percent recycled materials and printed with soy inks. Engro recently introduced its new apparel line made entirely of corn—or a fabric called Ingeo that’s made from corn. The company says Ingeo is the first and only greenhouse-neutral polymer that is stronger, better insulating and less bulky than cotton, will wick moisture from the skin, won’t fade, won’t absorb odors, and resists stains and wrinkling.
José Eber Enters Specialty Retail Market
Hairdresser to the stars, José Eber, has teamed up with longtime specialty retail company Overbreak to introduce the José Eber Signature Series curling iron and associated hair care products to the specialty retail market. Using ceramic heating and negative ion technology, the Signature Series curling iron heats hair gently from the inside out, seals the cuticles, repels humidity and reduces frizzyness, says Ed Ball, Overbreak’s Chief Creative Officer. “This is the first legitimate celebrity endorsement of any styling irons or hair products sold by specialty retailers,” says Ball. “José Eber is literally putting his signature on this product line. The awareness and star-power he brings will serve as the foundation of our comprehensive marketing, media and PR campaign. José adds huge news value and credibility to what’s already an innovative world-class set of products.”
Ideas from Overseas
At Anita Arts, beautiful home décor products have been handcrafted by the Soni family for generations in Ghaziabad, a booming township of suburban New Delhi, India. Today’s products include hand-detailed framed mirrors, decorated photo frames, coasters, statuettes, bowls, candle and incense holders, napkin and tissue holders, and a variety of abstract decorative pieces—all exquisitely decorated with enamel paints, sequins, stones, papier-mâché and aluminum coil.
But the latest generation of artisans has watched demand for their creations dwindle as machine-manufacturing advanced and the Indian market was flooded with inexpensive Chinese goods. Finding fewer takers for their art in rural and suburban areas, the family decided to take a chance on an urban marketplace and opened a store in the newly built (2005) East Delhi Mall in New Delhi. The three-level shopping center with a trade area that includes 4.5 million residents, has more than 120 specialty stores in addition to entertainment and food zones.
Traditional kiosks are the exception in New Delhi malls (they’re more common at fairs and exhibitions). As in a few US malls, stall spaces perform the function of kiosks—offering shoppers a focused product selection merchandised in accessible displays. Also in the spirit of kiosks, the stall spaces allow many independent entrepreneurs or family businesses the chance to test the retail waters.
The Soni family leased its space in early 2006. Soon after, they had record sales and bulk orders for their gifts and decorative accessories. What started as three members of the family practicing an art passed down through the generations quickly blossomed into a profitable business employing 10 to 12 workers. Business has been so brisk that the three original family artisans have had to train new workers how to create the handcrafted goods—sharing skills previously only known to family members.
Although Ajay Soni is the proprietor, he is usually busy with business networking. In his absence Saurabh Gupta manages the display and sales. “We’re glad that we moved to an urban mall location,” says Gupta. “The urban crowd appreciates handicrafts much more than the rural buyer—at least for their aesthetic appeal if not for the labor that goes into each creation. The up-market, young, urban buyers are fascinated by finely crafted decoratives with an ethnic touch.” He adds that his products are popular because of their style, variety, beauty and durability—a combination hard to imitate and replicate.
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