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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
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  • Posted on: 12/14/2018

    Does fear motivate workers or make things worse?

    "Fear is a normal human emotion, and — when held in check — can sometimes be a functional or even necessary" How can any of us disagree with this? But "in check" is the key word, of course: Netflix sounds like that "Star Trek" episode with the sadistic parallel universe ... that it has found apologists is sad, but not surprising.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2018

    Will the maker movement inspire a new creative direction for malls?

    Every idea -- or at least many of them -- has "promise" in the sense that it can be an attraction; the problem of course is the scale. 4000 square feet in a mall of 1.4M. It sounds like the real story here is that Rosedale was lucky to redevelop the Herberger space quickly, and doublepluslucky to land Van Maur ... unfortunately for other malls, there aren't enough 4-star anchors to go around (and fewer every year).
  • Posted on: 12/07/2018

    IKEA assembles holiday messages to drive sales

    I agree that a store that sells things one normally wouldn't give as a gift would seem to have a challenge; OTOH I would think that they're being from Scandinavia -- a cold, wintry place close to the North Pole -- would open up all kinds of possibilities. But let's run with what they gave us. I think the results were mixed: labeling the items available was logical -- presenting an obvious tie-in to the store -- but it also broke up the continuity of the storylines. So given lemons, they gave us lemonade ... just not particularly sweet lemonade. (On a side note: those of us expecting pale faces and blond hair to dominate the Svensk version were in for a surprise ... I can't imagine a clearer example of the challenges marketers face as old paradigms fade.)
  • Posted on: 12/06/2018

    Walmart: Floor cleaning robots will give associates more time to serve customers

    Based on the poll response it appears most people feel the machines will indeed free people for other tasks ... like filling out unemployment claims. And I can't disagree that's something that COULD happen. But of course it doesn't have to: as automation becomes more widespread -- and this is really just a continuation of a centuries-old trend, not something that's new as techies (and Luddites) sometimes proclaim -- workers can be freed for more creative tasks, improving the sales experience and maintaining current profit levels while, hopefully, increasing them in the long run. At least that's the dream if the "activist investors" can be kept at bay.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2018

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Pier 1 Imports vs. TJX Companies

    First let me give out "Thank you!" ribbons -- no hugs, please -- to both for offering "get-to-the-point" spots ... yes I've had my fill of epic ads that Tolstoy could have scripted. As for the main prize: TJX; and not really even close. The Pier 1 spots quickly crossed over from amusing to silly (at least with the garbageman offering).
  • Posted on: 12/04/2018

    Are subscriptions an untapped gifting opportunity for retailers?

    For some businesses, perhaps (for a Mercedes dealership? Yeah, you wish!) So how is it different than a "conventional" gift? For one, it's open-ended (or at least it's more than just a singular occurrence) so unlike that atrocious tie that can just get returned, a recipient could be saddled with months (years?) of something they don't really like. Alternately, if they do like it there's a potentially awkward moment when they find a service they have become used to runs out. Ideally the timing would be such that the giver can just renew it (or the recipient could do it themselves), but I can see the transition as potentially being unsatisfying.
  • Posted on: 12/04/2018

    Walmart gives associates a tool to deal with out-of-stocks

    I realize it's just an offhand remark, but George's comment that Walmart might "need" to add associates (because of some new "app") filled me with mirth. That it's "not known" for service is an indicator that it "needed" to long ago; but wait, it's done pretty well without doing so ... maybe it didn't need to after all. And I don't see that changing. In fact, whereas this would be wonderful at a Nordstrom or maybe (even) Macy's, for WM's staff-barren aisles, it seems like it will end up a promise unfulfilled.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Can Gap cut its way to profitability?

    I think many of us wonder what Sears would look like if someone else -- someone actually interested in retail -- had gotten ahold of them; and I wonder if it wouldn't look like this: a big, once successful but now struggling company that's always cutting its way, or "one new idea" away from regaining its mojo. (Many will disagree, arguing Sears was already in far worse shape than the GAP is ... or ever will be). Back on point: yes they're doing the right thing by closing underperforming stores -- duh! That they'll probably still have too many is a testament to just how over-stored they were in the first place, but I'm less certain how much it will help the longer term problem that a lot of people don't buy from them (at least not in the numbers they once did).
  • Posted on: 12/03/2018

    Payless scores with mock-up luxury shop

    I'm of a mixed opinion on this; us "oldsters" will remember Candid Camera, while younger readers are likely familiar with various shows in which people are "punked," and this seems like an expanded version of that ... and -- supposedly -- all in good fun. But everyone isn't always amused, and here we have the complication of perhaps being seen as mocking the victims of real frauds which occur, not to mention further blurring the line between acceptable and unacceptable marketing. So, I guess, my opinion is like that of a Jr High teacher: very funny ... but don't do it again.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2018

    Waitrose disses John Lewis’ Elton John Christmas commercial

    My thought is that it's a tie-in only to the extent that one is familiar with the JL spot ... it can be viewed as a stand alone spot as well, which is how I think most of the commenters here would view it, since they're not in the UK and would be unfamiliar with the former (but for it being shown here). As for the Lewis spot -- not that it was asked, but I find it hard not to comment: we've seen criticism here about (seemingly) self-indulgent ads done more as vanity projects from the agencies than as effective marketing, and I think we have the apotheosis here.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2018

    Is Hasbro trolling Millennials with its new Monopoly game sold by Walmart?

    Jeez! Oversensitive much? (And if they're really upset, perhaps they should turn their attention to how 18-20 year old adults have been increasingly marginalized over the past four decades). That having been said, Monopoly without the real estate seems pointless. Yes, I could forgive the specialized versions -- the Atlantic City origins of the original being lost on most people anyway -- but not being able to build your hotels? Heresy.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2018

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Big Lots vs. Dick’s Sporting Goods

    Big Lots got my vote, not because I particularly like it -- OTC it had the feel of "I've seen this before" (I think we actually have?) -- but because it got right to the point. Dick's had the feeling of someone trying to create a "moment," but not quite doing it ... it would make a nice mini-series.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2018

    FAO Schwarz makes an iconic comeback in the Big Apple


    What is it with toys that we seem to have a whole category filled with efforts to bring-back-the dead? Anyway, back on topic. I think it might work, but only in the sense that any new business "might" work. And "new" is exactly what I think this is, because I don't feel the original brand has any equity left -- which is too bad. I think it was a classic example of an iconic brand destroyed thru over expansion and general incompetence.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2018

    Why is Bloomingdale’s selling major appliances?

    If it's competitive on price and selection and service and ... all the hundred-and-one other things one seeks when buying appliances, then why not? But I don't think it's going to succeed just because its Bloomingdale's -- unlike, say, a fashion or cosmetics line -- if that's the hope.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2018

    RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Amazon vs. Best Buy

    "Too soon." I'm not normally one to use that phrase, but after yesterday's discussion about omnipotent Amazon, I found their ad -- talking boxes everywhere -- more than a little creepy. None of the ads wowed me; happily, both companies seemed to make some connection to their specific products/expertise; but the effort was pretty minimal, and as seems to be the case (all too) often in these contests, they could be any company, anywhere.
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