I had to go to get my shot of adrenaline, excitement, holiday transfusion and breathe the energy. Arriving at Peter’s apt where I lived twice a month for 17 years, looking down at Madison Ave from the 4th floor window, I felt a bit of anxiety, voyeurism, as I did not live there anymore. So I got on my walking boots and went to my usual jaunts. First to Bloomingdales first floor, then to Barney’s windows which were NYC in the vortex of the universe including live actors, of course Crate windows, up and down 5th Ave. Walked to the Rockefeller tree early morning, the NBC Today Show, Saks windows with glamorous gowns, stopped in the Cathedral to pay reverence, past Bergdorfs, and up Madison to the coffee cart at Hermes. My Greek buddy that calls me ‘mi lady’ asks me every time if I want sugar in my coffee…he knows I say no. Complains about the sexual orientation of the priests at church which is why he does not go, getting rid of all his rugs cleared up his allergies because of the chemicals, is happy again with his girlfriend, and got his money out of Greece finally. He does have the best coffee for $1.50 and oatmeal with cinnamon.

It was 60 degrees and everyone in good spirits. Six days before Christmas and the “After Christmas’ sales begun. DKNY was 40% off the entire store with new 60% mark downs today, Crate 50% all holiday and selected items. Every store had someone at the door telling what was happening that day in markdowns. The financial reports said there were 13% more markdowns this season than LY, and 38% of the consumers said they would spend less. Meanwhile there are lots of goods to clear. Macy’s in Herald Square was wild…have to love crowds, 6th floor lingerie chocked full with red frills on every key display, more SKU units than ever, with 3 sales associates at the register, each with 15 customers waiting. That is 45 people ready to pay…common sense says increase your SKUS and that creates more work, more units per sale…somehow the payroll model did not adjust to that…I left without buying.

I love the Holiday Markets (modeled after the European City Christmas Markets)- My favorite Union Square maize of tents of pop up merchants and the duplicate at Columbus Circle. I discovered the glass enclosures of Bryant Park and the juried booths at Grand Central. Some vendors are there year after year, many are new. The food is great too, hot cider, (in Europe it would be mulled wine) crepes, ethnic gumbos. Creative merchants that do not have stores but vagabonds that through the year go to craft fairs and have websites. Lots to buy and and fun conversations. I have my regulars that I frequent and found new ones too. Jewelry, candles, clothes, unique items and people were buying. All there until Tuesday the 24th. Return policy at their website.

The best part was getting together with my friends who are all working like mad dogs and found time to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner between leading the troops, setting the example of hard work, adding spirit, helping customers, and planning the leadership messaging for January to kick off the new year and first quarter merchandising. My past colleagues, Anna, April, Lisa, Elizabeth, Meredith, Gretchen and Celeste all found time for me as well as saying hello to my buddies at 59th St Crate.

I had a stimulating discussion with my friend Eileen who left her position same time as I did and now looking at her next working chapter. To quote Eileen, “Retail is about marketing and technology more than product right now. It really is a revolution! It is no longer about just resourcing the best product, or priority of display…its about marketing first…otherwise your efforts in finding the most unique product around the world is a secret. Traditional retailers like we all have been where 80% of the sales were at your stores and 20% in the internet are behind in marketing…those that were first internet sites, and brick and mortar second are more flexible and are getting ahead.

The next day Sun 12/22, the NYTimes Magazine article page 39 by Jeff Hinnelman, nailed it. How eBay and Walmart are working hard to catch up to the Amazon technology and gain back market share, have new partnerships, how on line companies have more advantages to know their customers, and turning Walmart into a digital retailer is not just a project but a permanent part of the future business. Lots of topics here for future discussions. This article is a keeper. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/22/magazine/ebays-strategy-for-taking-on-amazon.html?_r=0

I am annoyed about pricing. I get it, sitting at marketing mtgs segmenting customers to see their response is what we did, but now sitting on the other side I hate it. Who do I trust? I received an e mail from Harry and David,(which I consider very Norman Rockwellish). Gave me 15% off and free shipping. I browsed to buy. Later when ready to buy, could not find the e mail in the hundreds I get, so went to their website, ordered, and realized I was not getting the discount nor the free shipping. Annoyed I had to go back to search the e mail, ordered, then 6 hours later got another e mail for 20% off. My friend Ken, shared in his recent blog that major retailers are customizing online prices for each user, getting users information and determining different prices for identical items. Staples website displays different prices to people after estimating their location..the closer you are to the store the less discount you get. Price discrimination- offering different prices to different people based on their perceived willingness to pay/location/age/switching prices fluidly based on competitors. The evolution of on-line retail is a whole new world. Lots to learn about and adjust to it with yes or no opening up our wallets.

So does that mean that if I am in a store, I have to check my phone to see what the on line price is for me because it probably will be different based on where I live and my shopping patterns as opposed to what I see in the store? Lots of work, and the poor sales associate that has to deal with my aggrevation? AND I GET IT>>>WHAT ABOUT THOSE THAT DON’T

Tonight is the 24th and NASA is tracking Santa…Merry Christmas to All! http://www.noradsanta.org
(and a pop up window of Alex and Ani showed up…really…they are everywhere)

Favorite Blog references:
La Buena Vida 12-18 Winter City-love the pictures of NYC in this blog(my mentor)I am going to get better with the pictures.
The Homa Files-my friend Ken Homa, Georgetown Marketing Professor and Conservative http://kenhoma.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/gotcha-your-willingness-to-pay-is-showing-2/