Will Black Friday always be the same?

With Black Friday/Cyber Monday week finally over, I figured it would be a good time to share my thoughts regarding Black Friday/Cyber Monday week now that retail has shifted entirely to preparing for the upcoming December holidays.

I’ve never been one to go hard on Black Friday, and I’ve never actually gone shopping on a Black Friday, which still even surprises me because of how often I shop and how much time I spend absorbed in the retail industry. I’ve made Cyber Monday purchases for the past few years, this past one included. As my taste in clothing has become more *refined* over the past few years, I’ve always run into the struggle that is the things that I would be willing to drop a good amount of money on not actually going on sale for Black Friday.

For example, this year I was planning to make one big purchase (in terms of my bank account), and it was going to be the Super Puff jacket from Aritzia, which retails for $250. I was expecting it go on at least a little bit of a sale, but lone behold, it did not. If that jacket’s price had even been reduced by 10%, I would have probably purchased it. Leading up to Black Friday, I really thought that this jacket would go on sale because of how popular it was and the fact that Aritzia started their 50% off site-wide Black Friday promotion a few days before Black Friday. There was another coat that I was eyeing, that was $200-something, reduced from $400-something, so I was really banking on the Super Puff going on sale.

from Aritzia.com

My coworkers at Omni Talk were at the Mall of America on Black Friday, and pointed out on their live podcast that Aritzia was pretty much dead, which I do not feel bad about at all because of how disappointed I was that I didn’t get the jacket I was waiting on for months.

All of this aside, while spending this year for Black Friday/Cyber Monday was sky-high and in the billions, I noticed something that I didn’t notice last year. A lot of my favorite brands, that are relatively popular for millennials/Gen Z’s, didn’t have any kinds of sales going on for Black Friday.

Everlane, one of my absolute favorites, had no sales, but donated all of their profits from their “Black Friday Fund” to Oceana to help pick up plastic from the oceans.

Taken from https://www.everlane.com/black-friday-fund

Kotn, another one of my reliable brands, used all of their Black Friday profits to help build schools in Egypt, where their cotton farmers work and where all of their materials are sourced from.

TOPO Designs, one of my favorite outwear brands, and Blue Nile Jewelry, one of my favorite jewelry makers, put a super small selection of their merchandise on sale for the weekend, rather than taking an approach like Gap and others do, where the entire site has a fixed markdown percentage for all products.

This had me curious as to the future of Black Friday/Cyber Monday, especially as the spending power of millennials and Gen Z’ers increases, and will continue to do so. With changing consumer behaviors and a deeper consciousness for environmental impacts, as well as the prominence of brands so heavily shopped at during this weekend decreasing, will Black Friday eventually become irrelevant?

My prediction: probably not. But, I think that it will change significantly in my lifetime. Brands like Everlane and Kotn are doing something so untraditional and against the norms, and both brands ended up raising significantly more money for their Black Friday Funds than they had aimed for, which to me says something big.

As someone who manages to want all of the things that literally never go on sale, even for Black Friday, I’m excited to see how the beginning of the holiday retail season changes in my lifetime.

Glossier expanding into Nordstrom

Yesterday it was announced that beauty brand Glossier will be moving into seven Nordstrom locations temporarily for the holiday season. “Glossier You,” Glossier’s fragrance with a cult-following (and for a good reason, I can personally add) will be the only product sold in the Nordstrom locations and Glossier claims to have taken a large part in training the employees who will be working at these shops.

When I saw this headline, I was shocked that Glossier decided to enter a department store, as their products have previously only been sold through their own website and stores. I was worried that this was going to be a sell-out of the brand, and almost thought that the move might be out of desperation because of how well Glossier does on its own and that department stores are quite mundane in the eyes of Glossier’s target consumer.

Upon reading this CNBC article, I began to further understand the strategy behind the move and am now convinced that Emily Weiss (Glossier founder/CEO) is even more of a genius than I already thought she was.

Weiss stated that “Fragrance is an extremely personal category — one that people understandably prefer to discover in person — and department stores are the largest channel for fragrance, making up nearly a quarter of all U.S. fragrance sales.”

This got me thinking…and she’s absolutely right. Putting Glossier’s perfume into Nordstrom stores gives Glossier fans who don’t live in NY or LA (current physical store locations) an opportunity to get out and smell the produc and interact with the brand in a physical retail setting, AND, this gets people who don’t know about Glossier exposed to the brand, too.

Glossier’s target market is obviously women in their 20s/30s, but with this move, I think that the brand is saying that it doesn’t have to be. Nordstrom shoppers are usually older than those who seek out Glossier, and these temporary stores could get people of all ages exposed to the brand, only contributing to Glossier’s growth. While Glossier does feature people of a variety of ages on their social media feeds, the brand still primarily sells to younger women.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Glossier only sells their perfume in a bottle for $60 right now, and there is no mini size. If you make a purchase via the Glossier website, you can choose a free sample of the perfume, but for those who want to spray it all over themselves to test it out as you could in a department store, this gives so many people an opportunity to connect with the product and then hopefully expand into the rest of the brand.

Featured image from Glossier.com

Outdoor Voices brings a taste of Texas to Flatiron NY

Outdoor voices has just opened up their 10th store in the Flatiron district of NYC. The brand already has a store in SoHo, but the new Flatiron store brings a flare of West Texas to the urban jungle.

OV is headquartered in Austin currently has stores in Austin, San Francisco, LA, Boston, Nashville, Dallas, Chicago, and D.C. in addition to the two NY stores.

If you’re unfamiliar with Outdoor Voices, it is a digitally native outdoor and recreational wear brand that was founded in 2014 to disrupt the traditional outdoor/activewear industry. I scroll past an ad for OV on Instagram almost every time that I’m on there, especially after I have been checking out the website, and I continue to admire the brand for its honesty and portrayal of real people trying to get outdoors and be active.

OV shows their products on people of all sizes and looks, which makes me more inclined to purchase from them because I can both see how the products fit on a variety of sizes and I’m not discouraged to purchase or work out because of the intimidation that arises after looking at Adidas or Nike models. For this reason, I truly believe in this brand and what they stand for and trust that they are designing products with all people looking for active-ish wear in mind.

I also think that the usage of “recreation” is a brilliant strategy that sets this brand apart from other activewear or outdoor brands. You don’t have to be working out as a professional athlete to wear their products, you can imagine yourself strolling through Grand Central Park, hiking in the Grand Canyon, or playing soccer with your friends all while wearing OV clothing. When I see Nike workout products, I only imagine myself running at the gym. With OV, I can see myself wearing the products for a larger variety of uses that are “recreational,” which is why I think that that was such a smart marketing tactic. Finding what can set your product apart from others and creating a story for consumers to see how to incorporate your products into their lives is key to your brand’s success.

Back to this new store:

It’s awesome that another physical location is opening up. I have always found leggings to be tough to nail your size on the first try online, so having engaging and beautiful physical locations can only help this brand.

What’s so cool about this new store to me is the added Texas elements. Western decor, desert plants, and design elements more typical of Texas rather than NY help this store stand out. Not only can a shopper experience a beautiful new store and learn about the products, but they can also be transported to a different region of the country and almost feel the sun and heat of the western Texas desert.

I’ve done a lot of shopping in NYC, and most NY store locations tend to subscribe to traditional NY design features such as industrial elements, concrete, and white walls with minimal decor (such as the OV SoHo store), which is great because tons of people come to NY to experience this kind of store environment when shopping. I think that designing a store by taking inspiration from Texas, however, is a really unique approach for the brand, and it pays homage to where they came from. Shoppers can experience something totally different between the two locations in NY but still be informed on the quality and story of the products.

For someone like me who finds inspiration and admiration in design styles and elements from all over the country (and world), being able to go out in the city of New York to a store that will imaginatively transport me to Texas without actually having to travel to the store’s Texas location makes me want to head over there right now.

Images from the Flatiron store:


Images from the SoHo store:


Original story from Marianne Wilson at Chain Store Age: https://chainstoreage.com/first-look-outdoor-voices-brings-hint-texas-new-york-flagship-store?utm_source=omeda&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NL_CSA+Day+Breaker&utm_keyword=&oly_enc_id=1561H5042334C0V

Allbirds response to Amazon clones

A news article popped into my inbox this morning regarding Allbirds CEO Joey Zwillinger’s response to Amazon’s cloning of their popular Wool Runner sneaker.

Zwillinger handles this situation like a champ, encouraging Amazon to at least use the same materials that they do so that their products will be environmentally friendly. Zwillinger even gives the names and ingredients that go into the foam base of their shoes.

While I’m sure that Amazon cloning your company’s signature product is frustrating, Allbirds and Zwillinger handle it like a champ. Allbirds gained popularity based on their limited environmental impacts, which is what I believe will keep the company going regardless of what Amazon tries to do.

The Amazon shoe sells for $45, and you can find it at Walmart.com. While this may be a more affordable option for those who can’t spend the $95 for a new pair of Allbirds, the products are ridiculously similar and that is not enough of an excuse to put a cheaper clone of a branded product into the marketplace.

This is not a new behavior for Amazon, as they use their private-label brands to knock of products all of the time without actually selling the products under the Amazon name. It’s a shame that Amazon feels the need to do this. It’s actually a bit embarrassing, too, because they are trying so hard.

My loyalty stands with Allbirds, always.

Original Article:


Amazon’s 206 Collective Wool Shoe (https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Brand-Collective-Galen-Sneakers/dp/B07MY32W38)
Allbirds Wool Runners (https://www.allbirds.com/products/mens-wool-runners-natural-black)

Kroger launches in-store farming

A partnership between Kroger and Infarm (Berlin-based urban farming company) has been announced that will incorporate farming into two Kroger stores in Washington with more locations in the works for QFC stores.

“Kroger believes that everyone deserves to have access to fresh, affordable and delicious food, no matter who you are, how you shop or what you like to eat,” said Suzy Monford, Kroger’s group vice president of fresh. “Our partnership with Infarm allows us to innovate by combining ground-breaking in-store farming technology with our passion for fresh, local produce and ecological sourcing. Kroger is excited to be first to market and offer the best of the season, and we’re proud to lead the U.S. on this journey.”

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like much. BUT, if you look at this from a socio-economic standpoint rather than a retail innovation one, I think that this is huge.

Food injustice in the U.S. is a massive issue that is not well-addressed. There are food deserts all over the country (regions where access to fresh and affordable healthy food is severely limited), and if a mega-grocer like Kroger can take even baby steps towards finding a solution for the people who live in these areas, the potential is limitless.

These urban farming stations within Kroger’s will provide Kroger shoppers who live in areas where produce cannot grow or where produce is atrociously priced to be able to walk out of the store with affordable, healthy food for their families at an affordable Kroger price.

In the state of Minnesota (where I live), there are food deserts everywhere. The winters are also awful, and buying fruits and veggies that have to be shipped from warmer areas of the world that are not super fresh and cost an arm and a leg sucks. If I could go to a Target (because there are no Kroger’s here) and buy affordable produce that I know is fresh because it was grown right in the store, I would do it all of the time.

This story reminds me of the one Kroger that I have ever been to. It’s in Flint, Michigan. It’s not pretty, but it’s one of the only large grocery stores with affordable food in the area, and tons of Flint residents have to shop there for their families. If fresh produce could grow there and be sold at a low Kroger price, that could put healthy food options into the hands of so many under-served Michiganders.

A grocer as big as Kroger taking steps towards fresh food for everyone could spark a light that entices other large grocers to jump in, as well, and if this were to spread, I think that positive and tangible results in communities where healthy food is not viable are possible.

Original article by Michael Browne of Supermarket News.

Article: https://www.supermarketnews.com/produce-floral/kroger-offer-store-living-produce-farms

Featured image from Infarm via Supermarket News.

Tupperware’s New Store

This week, Tupperware opened its first ever store in SoHo, NY.

The store is temporary, as it is a holiday pop-up, but it’s still a big move for a company that’s been around for 75 years without a physical retail space.

The pop-up is an immersive+ experiential space, and judging by the pictures, is full of Instagram opportunities, which is critical for new physical retail spaces. The store utilizes clean, modern design with bright color accents, an open floor plan, and plenty of places to see product demonstrations.

What’s really cool to me is that Tupperware is a classic American brand, and everyone knows what Tupperware is. It’s one of those brands that’s so familiar that I just call any kind of kitchen/food storage bin a Tupperware, regardless of the actual brand. Everyone uses them, everyone knows them, and there will always be a need for some kind of food/kitchen storage, as well as fun and simple kitchen utensils.

This store provides Tupperware with an opportunity to bring their products to life and attract younger generations by creating an immersive and photo-ready space that exposes shoppers to the brand in a completely different way from how Tupperware products are currently placed on lack-luster Target or Walmart shelves.

Tupperware products are products that people buy out of necessity, and they aren’t expecting there to be a fun and exciting display around them. What this store proves is that there can be a fun experience around buying some kitchen utensils or containers, and the physical store can inspire shoppers to buy Tupperware products for reasons other than necessity.

There are plenty of advantages to this new store, but my favorite is that this store will capture the attention of any affluent person that walks by it in SoHo, and since Tupperware products are not ridiculously expensive, shoppers should be more than willing to pick up at least one Tupperware product after going inside because it won’t be a large monetary blow to their wallets.

Despite trends in consumption curving towards minimalism, Americasns still love containers and storage, and Tupperware caters to that love and has even invested in glass products over the years to adapt to consumers wanting alternatives to plastic containers.

Original story and images from Marianne Wilson at Chain Storage Age.

Article: https://chainstoreage.com/first-look-tupperware-opens-its-first-ever-store?oly_enc_id=4457D6989623E7Y&utm_source=omeda&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NL_CSA+Day+Breaker&utm_keyword=&utm_source=morning_brew

Introducing Myself

My name is Emma Irwin. I study Retail Merchandising at the University of Minnesota and work at Third Haus, a retail networking and lab space, where I call myself the Social Media Manager and work on content creation and marketing for both Third Haus and the popular retail blog, Omni Talk, that is hosted within Third Haus, as well. I occasionally publish content on the blog and make appearances on the Omni Talk Fast Five podcast. I also help people find the perfect glasses at Warby Parker on the weekends.

I found my passion for the retail industry once I moved away to college (I’m from NY, don’t ever forget it) and discovered the Retail Merchandising program. I specifically love both physical and digital merchandising and also have a soft spot for visual merchandising + store design. I dabble in UX research + design, and live for all things brand storytelling and content creation.

A list of favorite things include: coffee, furniture, fall/winter fashion, dogs, mid-century modern design, spending money I don’t have, pasta, all animals in general, interiors, classical cello music, rocks + gemstones, companies that value sustainability, social media, New York, specifically my two dogs, among other things.

I also make jewelry in bursts where I have free time. You can find it at http://www.etsy.com/shop/LOT33JEWELRY