Creating trends in men’s clothing is keeping the Hart Schaffner & Marx and Hickey Freeman brands prospering. One of those trends is a reaction to the casual dress codes in effect in many offices. 

“You’re seeing a trend back to people dressing up again,” W Diamond Group Corp. owner and CEO Doug Williams observes. “You’re seeing more dressing up by the 26- to 40-year-olds, and the 40- to 60-year-olds are following suit.” For W Diamond Group Corp. – manufacturer of Hart Schaffner & Marx and retailer of Hickey Freeman – following suit literally means selling more suits.

“You’re finding in young people there’s a desire for heritage, and our Hart Schaffner & Marx brand being more than 125 years old has that heritage,” Williams asserts. “There is a desire to support their community, so being made in the USA is a positive. The customer sees the quality, and they’re willing to forego multiple purchases of poor-quality products and make an investment in better-quality products.”

Read more: W Diamond Group Corp.

Some supermarkets limit the number of products that they sell, but not Schuette’s Market, owner and President Michael Schuette says. If customers cannot find an item in its stores, they just ask, and the company will order it and add it to its shelves. 

For instance, when a Hispanic family asked for Goya foods, “We got them all,” Schuette recalls, noting that the store benefited from it. “Our Hispanic business just rocketed. We are beholden to our customers.” 

Based in St. Rose, Ill., Schuette’s operates grocery stores that specialize in selling locally sourced items. Michael Schuette’s great-grandfather, Peter Schuette, started the company in 1863, after emigrating from Germany to the United States.

At the time, the country was still divided by the Civil War, and people were bartering for goods, Michael Schuette explains. “If you had eggs and you wanted a hatchet, you had to find somebody who had a hatchet who was willing to part with it for eggs,” he says.

Read more: Schuette's Market

Founded in 1994, high-fashion retailer Rudsak is currently expanding, opening more stores even as its online presence strengthens. 

The company operates 19 retail boutiques in Quebec and Ontario. In the next two years, it plans to open another 20 stores in Canada and to increase its retail stores presence in New York City, Chicago and Boston over the next couple of years, CEO Bruno Peloquin says. There would be flagship store in each city including retail space, a showroom and an onsite cafe just like its flagship on the chic St.-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal, which opened in 1998.

Even as the company celebrates its 20th anniversary, founder Evik Asatoorian still works with his designers. “He is as passionate about the company today as he was when he started the company 20 years ago,” Peloquin says. Rudsak plans major events including the Toronto Fashion Show appearance to launch its 20th anniversary. A series of events, celebrations, products specific and celebrities are all part of the celebration.

Read more: Rudsak

Bodum has never been afraid of change. In fact, the kitchenware company has spent the past 70 years changing to meet the needs of new customers and demands. Rather than fearing change, Bodum is a company that thrives on it. 

“Being the first to come out with new things is definitely something we do here a lot,” says Thomas Perez, CEO of Bodum’s North American division. “When you started to see all the different colors come into the housewares market after the 2008 crash, we were the first to do that. Everything was stainless steel and black, but we changed that. We’re good at taking risks, and we do what we like to do instead of doing what everyone else is doing. It doesn’t mean everything is successful, but we try new things and are first to market with a lot of new things.”

Read more: Bodum Inc.

Bolla Management is taking the gas station and convenience store industry by storm with its upscale and customer service-focused locations. The company’s mission is to become the most successful, recognizable and respected C-store chain on the East Coast. 

The Garden City, N.Y.–based company was founded in 1989 by President and CEO Harry Singh, who was committed to providing high-quality products at competitive prices and convenient locations. Bolla Management is comprised of five divisions: Bolla Retail, Bolla Wholesale, Bolla Transport, Bolla Construction and Bolla Real Estate. 

The company acts as a wholesale fuel distributor and operator of gas stations, convenience stores, auto repair shops and car washes. “We continue to put our stakes in the ground all over Long Island, New York City and New Jersey,” Singh says. “As we secure properties and get the projects into the pipeline, we secure our position as a market leader.”

Read more: Bolla Management

‘Soy Totalmente Palacio” – I am totally Palacio. It’s the slogan that was launched by El Palacio de Hierro’s leader, Don Alberto Baillères in 1996, and it still holds true today. Rarely does a retailer keep the same slogan for 18 years, but these words embody the essence and culture of the 125-year old upscale department store so perfectly that no truer words could capture its spirit. “Soy Totalmente Palacio” has resonated to the point of becoming part of the Mexican vernacular. 

Last year, Women’s Wear Daily published an extensive spread on the 125-year anniversary of this iconic retailer. Baillères, known to be a supremely private individual, gave a rare interview to the magazine. He was asked how he came up with the store’s famous slogan. This is what he answered: 

“I used to have long brainstorming sessions on marketing and advertising with our advisors and senior executives,” he told the publication. “One day, I was trying to express my vision on the main message for our advertising campaign. I was saying concurrent but disconnected phrases, like ‘El Palacio de Hierro is an inspired vision consumers share,’ ‘an unforgettable experience consumers love,’ ‘an intimate feeling consumers get,’ ‘an aspiration,’ ‘a real dream,’ on how well they look, how well they live and how well they feel; how deeply the consumer and Palacio are identified with each other. Then, ‘Palacio is its customers,’ ‘Consumers are Palacio de Hierro,’ ‘I am Palacio’… ‘I am totally Palacio’… Eureka! ‘Soy Totalmente Palacio.’” 

Read more: El Palacio de Hierro

With ever-narrowing margins, retailers are intent on getting the product edge that can make them a shopper destination. New products can help them do that, but many grocers are inundated with them.

“Retailers are overwhelmed with new items in the U.S.,” The Fave Juice Co. President and COO David Kirkpatrick maintains. “Each year, 30,000 new items are launched, and 95 percent-plus of those fail – and those include new items from really good companies like Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo. When you’re a little company or a startup, the odds are much worse than 95 percent.”

On top of that, whether the company will remain in business if its product fails is a legitimate concern. “Retailers have a reason to look at guys like us and say ‘no,’” Kirkpatrick concedes. “But what’s interesting is when you speak their language and talk about the shelf-stable juice category, which is a pretty big piece of real estate – up to 44 feet in a supermarket – when you ask how it’s doing, it’s been in steady decline for a decade.”

Read more: The Fave Juice Co.

Shoppers of francesca’s, however, can expect a completely different experience whenever they enter a new location. “While we have a lot of locations, we operate each as if it were a small, mom-and-pop store,” says Clary Groen, vice president of real estate and construction for the Houston-headquartered women’s boutique. “Many times, when someone walks into one of our boutiques, they don’t realize that we’re a national retailer, and we love that.”

Shoppers familiar with one francesca’s location are often surprised and excited to find and visit other locations, as they will differ from their home store both inside and out. “We use a multitude of types of materials and designs for our storefronts, so no two look alike, and we recently started launching new interior design prototypes, as well,” he adds. “Everything we do is in keeping with our desire to be a boutique concept perceived by our customers to be unique in nature.”

On the merchandising side, clothes, accessories and other items sold in francesca’s boutiques are available only in limited numbers, giving shoppers a sense of finding a unique outfit.   “Our customers are incentivized to buy something they like the first time they come in, because that item may not be around on their second visit,”  Groen notes.

Read more: Francesca's

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