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Summer 2007 TrendSpotting

From LMUs to POS

Puttin’ on the Ritz

If you haven’t heard of LMUs yet, or luxury merchandising units, you probably will soon. Luxury goods are still outselling many other sectors, and each year more specialty retailers are discovering the benefits of selling upscale goods from carts, kiosks and temporary in-lines. But when the big brands get in on the action—stand back.

Check out these Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Swarovski LMUs that were in the The Shops at Columbus Circle in New York City’s Time Warner Center for the 2006 holiday season.

David Froelke, senior vice president of Related Urban and general manager of The Time Warner Center, says the LMU tenants (another was Patrossian caviar) “greatly exceeded their corporate goals and objectives. Some of them nearly doubled their expectations while introducing new holiday specialty lines for their brands.” The LMUs “also afforded Time Warner Center to provide non-traditional services and gifting ideas for our holiday shoppers.”

An LMU is “not just an ordinary kiosk,” he adds. “It’s a fully enclosed luxury store in the common area.” He expects more luxury retailers to jump on the LMU bandwagon as they discover “temporary leasing is an incredible opportunity to test products, trends and new retail lines.”

Executioner’s Thong

If they’re so inclined, thong-wearers can kiss the strap show goodbye with the new JeaneeZ (jean-EEZ), a poly-blend 10″ wrap-around swatch that can also be worn as a fashion accent over jeans or pulled across the bust to peak beneath low-cut tops.

Maker JeaneeZ in Gainesville, GA, has created 20 different designs and plans to add more seasonally. “We know gals have different moods at different seasons, so we try to stay responsive,” says Head Geanie Logan Gordon. “We have a sassy owner/operator package, complete with graphics, display materials, sample plan-o-grams—the whole package!” The company hopes to have 75 turnkey owner/operator locations open for the holiday season.


Awesome Specialties International has developed an Internet Phone cart and kiosk concept with two product lines, Skype Starter Kits and Internet Phone Savings Certificates. The Skype kit allows buyers to place voice-over-Internet, or VoIP, calls, including conferencing and discounted long-distance to non-Skype users. The Internet Phone Savings Certificates allow buyers to log onto ASI’s proprietary Internet Phone Service Comparison website to buy flat-rate VoIP services, with a payment for sign-ups paid to the specialty retailer who sold the Certificate.

Full Throttle

The nearly $15 billion US market for motorcycles is set to see its 13th consecutive year of growth, driven mainly by baby boomers, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council. With sales now topping more than a million units per year, numerous manufacturers have introduced new products geared toward bikers. There’s even a new bike-oriented vineyard, V-Twin Vineyards in Santa Rosa, CA, which opened in 2007 with its inaugural V-Twin Zin. More functional products include those from Biker Skin Care in Bethpage, NY, which wholesales Tattoo Boost “to keep your ink as fresh-looking as the day you had it put on,” and Biker Sunscreen “for those long rides in the scorching sun.” In the specialty retail arena, some bike makers (or bike lovers) are turning to carts and kiosks to market their custom-bike services and sell bike-themed goods. Check out our profile of Metropolitan Choppers in the Unique Concepts section on page 34.

POS Blues

Vivonet, maker of the web-based Halo point-of-sale system, is sponsoring an “I Hate My POS” contest, in which retailers are invited to videotape themselves destroying their POS systems in creative ways and post their antics on A cash prize of $10,000 will be awarded on September 18 to the retailer with the most-popular video. Go to Halo for Retailers, then “contest.” (And have a POS backup plan if it turns out you’re a runner-up.)

From Tweens to Sunbathers

Tween Halloween

The last day in October has grown into one of the top three celebrated holidays in the country, and this top-selling “Monster Bride” by Disguise features the on-trend fashions of corseting, oversized furry boots and layering—with the edgy attitude of today’s “tween” girls.

Unique Viewpoint

Your customers will click with these CliCs, available from YTM Gifts. CliCs have a patented magnetic closure at the nose, an adjustable headband that keeps them in place and a comfortable neck strap. Available in CliC Readers, CliC Sunreaders and CliC Sunglasses.

Selling Happily Ever After

Just about anything princess is selling these days—from clothes and accessories to toys and furniture—and the trend “still has more room to grow,” says Adrienne Citrin, spokesperson for the Toy Industry Association in New York City. “The trend has been huge for a long time and we don’t see that changing.” Disney now has a reported 25,000 princess-themed products and introduces more every week.

It’s little surprise, then, that a growing number of specialty retailers, especially those running temporary in-line spaces, are catering to the young girls who make up the core princess demographic.

“I think girls have always wanted to dress up like princesses,” says Cynthia Stevens, owner of The Pampered Palace temporary in-line in Rivergate Mall in Goodlettsville, TN. The store hosts themed parties for girls and sells related merchandise. The Princess Tea Party, which costs $30 per girl, is the store’s most popular party theme.

Mud Pie a wholesaler in Tucker, GA, recently introduced a new version of its popular Princess Collection furniture, which in a very short time has become the company’s top seller. Mud-Pie sells the same furniture in its baby category, but the princess-themed version outsells the baby line three-to-one.

At Makit Products in Dallas, TX, products ready for personalization include a host of Disney princess merchandise including the Princess of Dreams Photo Plate shown here—one of Makit’s top sellers. Customers mail a photo to Makit and 10-20 days later receive their personalized princess plate. “In today’s world a little girl can be a princess morning to night, from the princess-themed bed in which they sleep to the pajamas they wear to the toothbrush they use to the plate they eat from,” says Teri Fittz, executive vice president at Makit. “Each product they use brings the dream of becoming a princess to life,” she says, adding that the trend shows no sign of abating anytime soon.

Kids With Cash

Who’s likely to be your best customer this holiday season? Many retailers might say “boomers,” but you might want to think younger. According to a recent report by The Media Audit, which studied 87 metropolitan markets, there are more adults earning $100,000 or more under age 35 than there are over age 54. Thirty-six percent of this “young with money set” are between ages 18 and 24.

Hello, Sunshine

Are your customers vacationers, outdoor enthusiasts, tourists—even just health-conscious? The SolarSafe wristband changes color to alert wearers when to reapply sunscreen and when to get out of the sun.

From Decisions to Tea

Decisions, Decisions

A host of books have hit the market recently about the usefulness of intuition when making business decisions, including The Hidden Intelligence: Innovation Through Intuition, by Sandra Weintraub (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2006); Trust Your Gut: How the Power of Intuition Can Grow Your Business, by Lynn A. Robinson (Kaplan, 2006); and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little Brown and Company, 2007). Gladwell is also author of the New York Times bestseller, The Tipping Point. Blink focuses on “rapid cognition”—the kind of decision-making that happens “in a blink of an eye.” Decisions made rapidly can be just as powerful and valid as those made after hours of conscious deliberation, Gladwell says. Here’s to snap judgments!

Unhappy Customers Spread Negative WOM

One in three customers who experience some sort of problem shopping your store will complain about it to others, typically telling at least four other people. That’s according to a recent Consumer Dissatisfaction Survey conducted by the Baker Retail Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania and the Verde Group.

The study also found that one in two shoppers had chosen not to visit a particular store “because they heard about someone else’s bad experience.” Of the shoppers who reported encountering a problem while shopping during the previous month:

  • 33 percent said they couldn’t find a salesperson
  • 25 percent said they were ignored by the salesperson
  • 6 percent said they’d never shop the store again

Problems related to store issues such as a product being out of stock are more tolerated by shoppers than problems related to salespeople, the study said. In a counterintuitive twist, the survey also indicated that the younger the shopper, the more likely they were to have a bad shopping experience. For example, 18 to 20 year olds are 66 percent more likely to have a problem when shopping than those 65 or older.

For more info on what irks shoppers the most, you can find the study’s executive summary online at

Color Me Sold

CASI/QLT has introduced the Chroma Crystal image-to-crystal manufacturing system, a process that produces color photos on crystal gifts and awards in just minutes. The company offers a start-up package for specialty retailers that includes a Chroma Crystal machine, imaging supplies and three dozen assorted crystal pieces. “This is the first method on the market to put color images on crystal,” says Vice President Phil Ross. “We’ve been in the photo novelty business for 30 years supplying cart and kiosk operators with photo mugs and T-shirts, buttons and key chains, but this is the hottest thing we’ve seen in a long time. With the Chroma Crystal system, retailers can produce the highest resolution photo crystal awards and gifts in the industry.”

Tea Time

Tea sales reached $6.5 billion last year, more than quadruple their level in the early 1990s, according to the Tea Association of the USA. Manufacturers are now brewing up all kinds of products to appeal to this growing segment, even the most common items not associated with tea. Crazy Rumors “Brew Tea Balm” is available in Spiced Chai, Orange Bergamot and four other flavors (combined in a six-pack Tea Lovers Collection). Complementing the lineup is a “Perk Lip Latte” available in Coffee Bean and Mocha, among other flavors (available in a Coffee Lovers Collection). Drink up!

Down But Not Out

In March the Census Bureau announced the top 10 fastest-growing counties, eight of which are in areas impacted by Katrina in 2006.

Top 10 Fastest-growing Counties

County State Population % Increase
Chattahoochee GA 14,041 13.2%
Pinal AZ 271,059 12.9%
Kendall IL 88,158 10.8%
Rockwall TX 69,159 10.0%
Flagler FL 83,084 9.3%
Pearl River MS 57,099 8.8%
Lyon NV 51,221 8.2%
Paulding GA 121,530 8.0%
Ascension Parish LA 97,3357 .6%
Sumter FL 68,768 7.6%

Useful Links

Looking for more information on wholesalers and products? Check out our directory of useful links.

  • The Black Box
  • Creations at Dallas
  • FrameSakes
  • Jose Eber
  • FlowLab
  • Himalayan Salt Corp
  • Zirh Shield

  • View the full directory
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