I feel bad even mentioning ‘the state of the market’ for the simple fact that only 4 letter words come to mind. We thought that it would be interesting for our readers to be able to get a little introspective from entrepreneurs on what it is like dealing in the market right now.
Let’s really set the scene. The media are proudly declaring the economic apocalypse is on the horizon. The banks that haven’t gone bankrupt are sitting on shpilkas until there is a bailout package and without equity and a 800+ credit score, entrepreneurs need not apply for a loan. The vast majority of retailers are battening down the hatches, sitting dumbfounded and preparing for impeding doom. Despite the Christmas lights going up, economists are predicting dark days for black Friday [for those who don’t know that is the day after Thanksgiving and traditionally the big push for Christmas sales].
We are now gracing the windows of the top tier retailers around the country. I can say with certainty that after speaking with nearly every specialty store owner or buyer around the country, many do not sharing the same perspective on how to stimulate traffic. It would be a fair assumption to make that the upper echelons of wealthy consumers are still spending. Where they may hang on to the Porsche for one more year, they are not turning themselves into coupon cutters. This consumer bracket is still looking for simple luxuries and they forced to choose the lesser of the evils because they look to the store to sift through the crap in the market and produce the most desirable merchandise mix. That means to be the cool store for modern, hip parents you need to have the coolest products. The Oeuf crib, Bloom high chair and Bubagoo Chameleon would be like Sony still making rear projection TVs their marquee item while Vizio is running around hocking paper thin HD-LCD with a built in Blue Ray player for a little more.
Simply put, retailers that have us in the window are experiencing increased foot traffic in their stores and increasing the sale of small ticket items immediately. While foot traffic is highest in the 4th quarter and purchasing in the 1st quarter and it would be entirely counter intuitive to introduce a highly visual product when consumers have already made their small purchases and taken the time to educate themselves on the choices available. Plus, if you are attracting all of these consumers at the onset and are now reinforcing that you are the destination location to find the newest and greatest, it would also be fair to assume that you are going to be the first stop in the future when they are in the market for something special.
Instead of support, we get countless requests for consignment models, free services, and other silliness from the stores and companies that are not really getting it. We are not trying to boast but I don’t know of a more novel feature then the trike conversion, a more innovative product then the Roddler, a stroller being manufactured in the USA, or a juvenile product that has had the diversity of media exposure that we have. So, dear skeptics, we have this to say. If you frown at the status quo in the industry but are not willing to support and embrace change when it arrives, by all means sit on your hands an wait for the next Bugaboo. These companies are one hit wonders. Holy crap, when was the last time a car company could get away with 10 years between model changes? They missed terribly with the Bee and have about 2 years to get their ducks in a row, so if there’s nothing on the drawing board now, might as well consider themselves the next memory like scrunchies, permed hair and Aprica. Since they just lost their US execs, dropped the Frog for spring ’09 and are forcing consumers to pay more for an archaic design. That is a pretty cheap shot and I would hope the market response will be for them to keep losing market share to Orbit. Unless of course you are just another Jones.