the Insiders


Showing posts by Sharon Edelson- Senior Editor, Specialty Retail (including Real Estate)
Forget everything you know about Nordstrom before heading over to Treasure & Bond, a new concept store at 350 West Broadway in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood.

The author's daughter, center, with two friends at the Jingle Ball.
On Friday night, a horde of prepubescent girls and their parents descended on Madison Square Garden for the Z-100 Jingle Ball presented by H&M. Last year, I took my daughter, a Z-100 fan, to the radio station's Zootopia concert. A glutton for punishment, I agreed to accompany her and two friends to this musical extravaganza.

"OMG, our seats are on the floor!" my daughter screams. "I'm so excited!"

My back was literally up against the wall.

It was Friday, and the grand opening of the J.C. Penney flagship in the Manhattan Mall. If things seemed a little cramped it was because the ceremony was supposed to be across the street, at Greeley Square Park, but early morning rains put a damper on those arrangements. Only a soggy stage and Kimora Lee Simmons' luxury trailer parked along the curb gave any hint of the original plans. The festivities were quickly moved to the lobby of the mall, where male and female and child models walked down a red runway, stopping long enough to pose for the photographers standing cheek-by-jowl on risers. It was hard to see what was going on, but I knew the "oohs" and "aahs" were for the children. "Woo hoo, woo whoo," some women in front of me hollered when a hunky guy in a beige pin-striped suit sauntered out, as if this were Chippendales.


WEST NYACK, N.Y. — Anyone who has been to the Palisades Center will understand why it annoys me on a number of levels. (No pun intended.)
Those Wal-Mart folks are a hearty bunch. If nothing else, "Mr. Sam," instilled in his employees an appreciation of the early-to-bed, early-to-rise adage and a serious work ethic, leading by his own 16-hour-day example. I was reminded of this when I attended the company's media day and annual shareholders meeting last week in Fayetteville, Ark.

The drive from Northwest Arkansas Airport to Bentonville is pleasant enough, passing green pastures dotted with horses, cows and charming ramshackle barns, a scene that is occasionally broken by gated McMansion communities, followed by more bucolic scenery.

I checked into my hotel on Wednesday evening, ordered a tostada chicken salad from the all-Mexican-food restaurant menu and watched "The Devil Wears Prada" (twice). Watching the machinations and ridiculous striving of aggressive New Yorkers made me feel more at home while in the hinterlands.

As a veteran of H&M designer collection launches, I've been pushed, shoved, elbowed, prodded, mauled, stepped on and bear-hugged by none other than Roberto Cavalli, who enveloped me in his arms during the November 2007 debut of his line at the retailer's Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan.

That particular event stands out for the level of frenzy and sheer absurdity of celebrity worship Cavalli fans displayed. Shoppers climbed on top of displays and stripped mannequins of their clothing, picked racks clean of gold lame gowns and zebra print dresses, and grabbed merchandise indiscriminately out of the hands of sales associates who were trying to restock the floor.

When Cavalli pulled up to the store in a black Town Car and dropped his cigar on the ground, a woman on line wasted no time in picking it up and tossing it into a Ziploc bag -- she said she planned to sell it on eBay.

Donald Trump for years has been the poster child for the confident developer. The Donald may be more bombastic and boastful than most, but he shares with other developers a high tolerance for risk and the audacity to believe his multibillion-dollar projects will succeed. But developers and real estate executives don't seem so self-assured these days. With the global economy in free fall, their world decidedly changed from one of plenty -- available capital, myriad retail concepts, willing partners -- to one of scarcity. "The deals we hear about are dying," said a Manhattan-based retail broker. "My clients' sales are off. They don't want to go forward with anything now."

A look from Oscar de la Renta.
Advocating a "Let them eat cake" approach for the uncertain economy, retailers arrived at New York Fashion Week this season with higher expectations than usual. "Business is tough. Dazzle us." "Basics be damned!" "Women have plenty to wear from last spring. Give us something really new," they chanted collectively. Like Marie Antoinette, the 18th-century clotheshorse who refused to trade down, high-end stores stressed that women are "buying less, but still buying the best," as one fashion director puts it.
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