Founded 30 years ago as a provider of on-the-field uniforms for practically every sport, Teamwork Athletic Apparel 10 years ago developed proprietary manufacturing processes and patented technology that allowed it to greatly expand its offerings. Today, the company manufactures uniforms as well as outerwear, active apparel, sportswear and fan wear. Check out some of Teawork Athletic's wonderful apparel below and read more about the brand here

 

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Fully sublimated soft rib fabric lends a luxurious feel to this figure-hugging tank dress, which includes a scoop neckline and a flattering midi-length. Featuring more than 600 officially licensed collegiate designs for fans coast to coast, show off your school spirit in a licensed ProSphere fully sublimated dress.

 

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Officially licensed collegiate fan jerseys featuring designs for more than 600 colleges and universities! Fully sublimated 100 percent polyester is fade resistant, durable and engineered for comfort. Available in youth, women’s and men’s sizes – extended sizing available up to 4XL.

 

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See more New & Notable products here

ThinkstockPhotos 576896768The retail sector is hurting due to the growth of e-commerce, decreased spending on consumer goods, and high debt levels following "going-private" transactions, among others. By Jeffrey M. Pomerance, Esq.

The facts are undeniable. According to Credit Suisse, between 20 and 25 percent of the nation's shopping malls will close in the next 5 years. Established retailers such as Macy's, JC Penney and Sears have announced numerous store closings; clothiers such as American Apparel, Gymboree and Wet Seal have filed for bankruptcy relief, with more on the way. In fact, the number of companies filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases, especially in the retail space, is approaching the highest level since 2008.

The retail sector is hurting, with no immediate end in sight. The causes are many—the growth of e-commerce, decreased spending (as a percentage of total spending) on consumer goods, high debt levels following "going-private" transactions, among others. All hope is not lost, however, as brick-and-mortar companies such as Best Buy demonstrate that retailers can implement a number of strategies to not only survive the meltdown but actually thrive and grow.

Recognize Your Competitive Advantage

Too often, retailers view their brick-and-mortar establishments as merely a cost and detrimental when competing with Amazon and other e-commerce giants who have traditionally offered lower prices to garner market share. Successful retailers such as Best Buy, however, recognize that physical stores, when part of a multichannel effort to generate sales, allow potential buyers the ability to feel and touch products that online retailers are unable to offer.

Customers generally like to ask questions, and prefer to speak directly with a person rather than through a call center or via email. Retailers with brick-and-mortar locations can offer entertainment (either in store or within reasonable proximity) and an experience that cannot be achieved online. Make the shopping an experience that satisfies a client's desire for items and an enjoyable time, and not just the acquisition of goods.

"Servicize" Your Products

Along these lines, brick-and-mortar retailers should seek to provide complementary and supplementary services and support for product sales, which not only enhance the purchase process but can actually generate sales of new products. Best Buy, for example, also offers in-house advisory services through its Geek Squad support function, which generates additional revenues, enhances the customer experience and may in fact lead to new product sales.

Manage Cash Effectively

Too often, retailers seek to regain their footing simply by cutting costs. This is shortsighted and can lead to further problems. Rather, the goal should be to conserve cash by managing it effectively. Reliance on the ability to secure a competitive line of credit, even at a time with historically low interest rates, or seeking additional outside financing in today's market has led many retailers to incur exorbitant levels of debt and subject to large interest payments that result in competitive problems.

Rather, care should be taken to ensure that the appropriate available funds are set aside for creative marketing and advertising, both traditional and online, and for the education and training of the retailer's sales force. To the extent possible, inventory should be obtained on consignment or on account to best manage cash outflows.

Revisit The Company's Capital Structure

Since 2008, many retailers have incurred or been saddled with significant debt, which can significantly hamper a retailer's ability to compete in the present retail environment. Along the lines mentioned above, managing cash is a key determinant in financial viability. Management should be examining their balance sheet and cash flows, and seek if possible to align debt holders with the company's long-term goals. This can occur either on a consensual basis (as in a reorganization of debt to equity) or through the bankruptcy process. Too often, the cash that is used to make interest payments is the cash that, if properly applied, would permit a retailer to successfully perform in a tough retail environment.

Manage Inventory Effectively

Successful retailers offer a good product mix to effectively meet market demand, yet balance the amount of inventory on hand—an intelligent warehousing and distribution strategy can significantly enhance profitability. Best Buy, for example, replaced CD's and DVD's with other more profitable electronic items.

Revisit Your Lease

The significant dislocation in the retail sector permits opportunities to revisit and renegotiate terms. Care should be taken in this regard; landlords concerned about the retail meltdown may view a renegotiation as an opportunity to replace an existing retailer with another, better funded, retailer or another business. Rather, retailers should use the retail meltdown as an opportunity to align landlord and retailer/tenant issues.

Embrace Technology

Modern technology can often help retailers give customers a unique shopping experience. Retail companies have employed, for example, 360-degree changing room mirrors with video-playback facilities and screens which track what people are trying and suggesting alternative outfits, 3D body scanning to help customer finds the right size/shape of clothing, and "magic mirrors” which allow customers to try on items virtually. These advancements in technology provide the brick-and-mortar retailer with a potential competitive advantage over their e-commerce rivals, and may actually be helpful in generating information that aids in inventory mix decisions down the road.

In conclusion, brick-and-mortar retailers can survive and indeed succeed in this otherwise difficult retail market. Price is not the only point of competition with Amazon and the other e-commerce giants. Rather, executing on the strategies outlined above amongst others can actually give a brick-and-mortar retailer a winning advantage over its online competition and generate profitability.

Jeffrey M. Pomerance, Esq. serves as senior counsel at SulmeyerKupetz, a premier financial restructuring, insolvency, business and litigation firm in California. He can be reached at jpomerance@sulmeyerlaw.com. 

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Homebase John WaldmannHiring informative and helpful seasonal employees are key to your customer relations and holiday sales. By John Waldmann

The holidays are around the corner. Time to staff-up and add part-time, hourly workers. Hiring terrific, informative and helpful seasonal employees is key to your customer relations and holiday sales. So, here’s what to look for when hiring seasonal employees.

See If Your Current Workforce Can Take on More Hours

This holiday season, Walmart made headlines for choosing not to hire seasonal workers and instead is giving their existing part-time employees more hours. There are many lessons small business owners can learn from Walmart’s move. Your existing employees have a wealth of knowledge. They know your products, customers, and competitors inside and out.

Before going through the long process of interviewing and training new employees who might only be with you for two months, ask your current team members if they’d like to take on additional hours this holiday season. If they have trips planned with family that you’ve already approved or have other commitments, then it’s out of the question, but it’s certainly worth the ask when it becomes clear that you need to hire more employees to handle the holiday rush.

Get Referrals

Asking your employees to refer their hard-working friends and family members is always a good idea, but this is especially true around the holidays. With customers looking to check everything off their holiday list, having employees you can trust to handle the rush courteously and efficiently is key.

Referrals come with an added layer of trust. Your loyal employees will likely only refer candidates that they know will do an excellent job, just like they do. Adding a small referral bonus can be a way to incentivize employees to refer people they know. Since the holiday rush will mainly occur over the course of a month or so, make sure you pay the bonus out to them once the seasonal employee completes the holiday season. This way, you get access to a high-quality pool of new candidates that are vetted by your top performers.

Make Sure Employees Are Aware of Schedules

To make the most out of the holiday rush, sometimes your business will need to open early and close late. Make it clear what days are required and what the potential hours will be. For example, many small businesses require seasonal employees to work weekends because that’s when foot traffic is highest.

Small Business Saturday, in particular, is when businesses should be prepared for an influx of customers, since consumers will have an extra reminder to visit their local businesses. Make these requirements front and center on applications and in training to avoid confusion as the holidays get closer.

On top of that, employee communication will be paramount to your success this holiday season. Beyond regular shifts that employees expect, shift swaps will likely become more common. Flu season is here and as some employees get sick, seasonal employees can be incredibly helpful in picking up those shifts to keep your business properly staffed. Put an employee-scheduling tool to work for you to centralize employee communication, automate scheduling based on robust demand forecasts, handle time tracking and facilitate easy shift swapping.

Hire Candidates with Permanent Potential

You wouldn’t want your star employees of several years to leave you, so why would you want that to happen with seasonal employees who prove to be great assets? If you have room on your team, make sure that you hire employees for the holidays who you would want to stick around after the New Year. After all, you’re pouring resources into training them, and they will have a crash course in what your business is all about over the busy holiday period, so why not get a full return on your investment and bring them on as a regular employee?

Ask in the interview process if candidates would be open to being a part of the team after the holidays. It doesn’t have to be a deal breaker if they aren’t interested, but keep track of sales numbers and other metrics for those seasonal employees who have expressed interest. The highest performers could be the newest members of your regular staff once the New Year arrives.

Hiring the right seasonal employees will impact your brand and sales. Following the above suggestions will go a long way to make your holidays a customer relations and sales success.

John Waldman is the co-founder and CEO of Homebase, which provides a new free real-time software solution that helps more than 60,000 small businesses eliminate the paperwork of managing their hourly employees, helps manage overtime and curbs absenteeism and turnover.

ThinkstockPhotos 179693002In order to acquire and maintain customers, it’s vital for brands and marketing teams to leverage social media and guide customers down the purchasing path. By Jason Beckerman

Social media is ingrained in all shoppers’ lives. Well aware of this phenomenon, marketers are increasing social advertising budgets faster than any segment of the paid media mix. In fact, in 2018 social advertising budgets are expected to swell to over $50 billion.

Retailers of any size and industry must keep this number in mind; it signals the explosive growth of social media marketing—and the impact it can have on retail shoppers. In order to acquire and maintain customers, it’s vital for brands and marketing teams to leverage this massive ecosystem and guide customers down the purchasing path. But before they can do this, they need to ask “Do I have access to and control of my data? What if I don’t?”

Be Smarter (From the Beginning)

To successfully capitalize on social advertising, brands must first own their data. What does this mean? If you own your data, you have total access to all your social advertising data, no matter how many agencies, vendors or partners you are working with. Without data ownership, retailers can’t access the information they need, when they need it. And without that access, they can’t make informed, effective decisions about their social media. A lack of direct access to accurate performance information can lead to business decisions based on incorrect or incomplete data – putting social investments at risk.

Additionally, social is the perfect pair with the first-party CRM data retailers are spending large amounts of resources cultivating. Brands who take ownership of their social data, are able to integrate it with first-party data at scale, innovating in areas like targeting, creative and audience analysis. Without data ownership, marketers are not getting the most of their first-party data and leaving a ton of value on the table.

What Owning Data Looks Like

In short, data ownership provides retailers with both the security of accurate information and the assurance that they won't lose anything when changes are made.

Think of it like this: you know that serving customers social coupon ads builds foot traffic. Based on that information, your marketing team develops a new, winning campaign that drives hoards of customers into stores. Weeks after this campaign, you switch agencies. Your marketing team searches for the performance data from this last campaign, but it belongs to the old agency, and you cannot access it any more. Now you don’t know which targeted groups responded best to which ads, which dates performed best – you don’t know anything specific about that successful campaign. But with data ownership, you retain all the information you need.

Retailers who own their data can mine and map it to create powerful insights. No past learnings or best practices are lost. Adopting measurement standards and leveraging technology can ensure that you are accessing the right information on what was spent, who spent it and how it performed. This creates a holistic, trusted data repository that will enable you to continuously create successful campaigns.

Data ownership can also provide visibility into your social supply chains. Retail brands have one of the most complex supply chains; they can have coupon vendors, ecommerce solutions, creative agencies, and more working on a single social media campaign. With so many players in the mix, brands often face teams working in silos, hidden fees and limited visibility.

With data ownership, retail brands can gain the complete transparency they need into their entire social supply chain, allowing them to make better decisions on both campaign and partner budgets.

Getting the Full Picture

When conducting a campaign, marketers must see the whole picture from beginning to end, and data ownership can provide that kind of transparency.

By leveraging social media to reach audiences at each shopping stage, marketers can exceed goals at every step including delivering prospects, customers and loyalists. However, when brands rely on "wrap-up reports" about campaign performance after the fact, they miss out in the real-time intelligence they need to truly move the needle and drive the best results. On-demand transparency into total performance is critical, and the retail brands succeeding with social are tapping into it early and often.

Retail marketers must take advantage of social advertising technology that provides data ownership and transparency, and is interoperable with any campaign, team, tool or channel. Such technology completes the picture, allowing brands to control data accessibility, assure certainty about investments – and dramatically limit risk.

Jason Beckerman is the CEO and co-founder of Unified.

TinaMossWhy buy assets from a bankrupt company? How today’s retail scene presents potential business opportunities. By Tina Moss and Brian Audette

 

It would be an understatement to say that 2017 has been a difficult year for the retail sector. Store closings and bankruptcy filings punctuate the news almost daily. However, challenges beget opportunities, and this situation is no different. Here is why.

The bankruptcy process often presents an extraordinary opportunity to acquire the plum assets of the bankrupt company, known as the debtor. These assets can be very valuable to the debtor’s competitors and other strategic investors. Some of the potential items on the block may be the debtor’s accounts, inventory, customer lists, intellectual property, contracts, and real property and leasehold interests.

Why buy assets from a bankrupt company? Buying assets through bankruptcy is advantageous because, under most circumstances, a buyer may obtain a court order approving a sale free and clear of all liens, claims, interests and encumbrances. In other words, a sale without baggage. Tell me more!

Business, Not As Usual = An Opportunity

Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to use, sell or lease property of its bankruptcy estate outside the ordinary course of business. The 363-sale process can be a streamlined one and typically lasts a couple of months. There is also some sanctioned cherry picking that often occurs. The Bankruptcy Code allows a debtor to assume and assign most types of contracts and leases to a purchaser, i.e., you can acquire the favorable contracts and/or leases (as long as monetary defaults are cured and the buyer can provide adequate assurance of future performance), and leave behind the undesirable assets.

A benefit of participating in the process early is that a potential buyer can act as a “stalking horse bidder,” which is an interested purchaser selected by the debtor as the opening bidder in the sale process. A stalking horse is used to draw other bidders into the sale and typically enters into a full asset purchase agreement with the debtor conditioned on other parties having a chance to submit “higher and better” offers. Drop the gavel folks—we are having an auction!

Why Serve as a Stalking Horse Bidder?

Wondering what’s in it for you? A purchaser might be incentivized to volunteer to serve as a stalking horse for several reasons. First, the stalking horse will often have an exclusive opportunity to negotiate the terms and conditions of an asset purchase agreement with little to no initial competition.

Second, the stalking horse bidder is often offered financial incentives if it is ultimately out-bid for the assets, including reimbursement of its reasonable expenses and a “break-up fee” often in the range of 3% of the bid. Therefore, entering the process early can help you negotiate the most favorable terms from the debtor and its advisors.

Following an auction and the debtor’s selection of the winning bidder (generally in consultation with its stakeholders), the court conducts a sale hearing and says “yea” or “nay” to the sale. If approved, the bankruptcy court will enter an order authorizing the sale and transfer of the debtor’s assets “free and clear” of all liens, claims, encumbrances and other interests, and potentially free of successor liability claims as well. I’ve heard enough of that legal stuff, now give me some real world examples.

Retail 363 Sales That Paid Off

Buyers of assets out of bankruptcy can come in many different shapes and sizes. Take Sports Authority, for example. Although it was unable to find a buyer willing to take over its massive retail operations, one of its principal competitors, Dick’s Sporting Goods, scooped up certain intellectual property and 30 leasehold interests. Dick’s strategically acquired royalty-generating assets, including patents relating to sports equipment, trademarks relating to the Sports Authority brand and certain private label products. Dick’s also gained valuable customer information and control of Sports Authority’s e-commerce site.

Similar sales involving competitors that were able to selectively acquire assets out of bankruptcy include: (1) Gordmans Stores - Stage Stores acquired certain intellectual property, leasehold interests and a distribution center; and (2) Gander Mountain - Camping World Holdings acquired a wide range of assets, including leasehold interests, intellectual property rights, operating systems and platforms, and an e-commerce business.

It is not only a debtor’s competitors that have gotten in on the 363-sale action. In the Aeropostale bankruptcy proceeding, two landlords (Simon Property Group, Inc. and General Growth Properties Inc.) joined a successful bidding group that also included liquidators to save the fledgling brand by acquiring leasehold interests, inventory and certain intellectual property. Among other benefits of the acquisition, the landlords were able to strategically maintain occupancy in a number of their malls.

As you can see, opportunities abound when retailers enter Chapter 11. Starting to hear the sound of holiday bells? They could be heralding a great opportunity to build your business.

Tina Moss, partner in Perkins Coie’s New York office, has more than 20 years of experience in bankruptcy, corporate restructuring and related litigation. She represents clients in all aspects of Chapters 11, 7, and 15 bankruptcy proceedings.  

Brian Audette, partner in Perkins Coie’s Chicago office, concentrates his practice in the areas of bankruptcy, creditor's rights and general commercial litigation. He counsels clients on all aspects of Chapters 7 and 11 bankruptcy matters.

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