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Kaufmann’s Return as Real Estate Play Inspires

July 30th, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

PITTSBURGH – Because many downtown department stores have failed under the current model of Macy’s, there is a misunderstanding of what a department store is, and whether a department store is a valid idea. Currently, the idea of a department store is a massive, massive clothing and accessories store, with some other things thrown in.

But that was not the original idea of the department store. In its origin, the store went from a general dry goods store and evolved into a what in my home state of Richmond was a tall mall.

The “tall mall” was the nickname I heard when describing department stores in downtown Richmond. Richmond’s Thalhimers, like so many other department stores with 19th century origins, began as a small independent store and grew in complexity over the decades. Even as the company grew its sales in its core retail division, the owners gradually added many leased departments and properties. Thalhimers in its heyday included a coins and stamps shop, a travel agency and a city utility payment office as part of their credit card operation. That is on top of the usual idiom of having leased counter space of jewelry, cosmetics and some fashion lines. [Read more →]

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Safeway House Brands & Edwards Coffee History

July 12th, 2017 · 1 Comment

By Garland Pollard

PLEASANTON, Calif – House brands seem to be all the rage these days. They go in and out of favor at grocers; these days national brands seem to be the brands that are on the outs. Apparently, part of the acquisition value of Whole Foods for Amazon was their experience with house brands (particularly the 365 brand) and independent startup brands.

Most large retailers are in the business of cultivating house brands, including Dollar Tree, which slaps a new brand on just about everything they sell. Often, it is just a “TM” rather than registered, but nonetheless, it makes too much sense to use house brands. When consumers trust a store, they also trust the brand.

However, some companies have just let their great house brands grow fallow, and that is a missed opportunity, one that Safeway counsel Robert Gordon might investigate.

After decades of retrenchment, Safeway is now on an expansion trip, and they have a few select house brands they are using. Sadly, because the Safeway company’s identity has been changed so much in recent decades, many house brands were lost, though they continue to promote the use of Lucerne. Safeway back in its heyday had dozens of great house brands, most of exceptional quality. These include Bel Air frozen foods, Crown Colony spices, Mrs. Wrights baked goods, Cragmont soda, Town House canned goods, Scotch Buy (bargain stuff) and Edwards Coffee.

I have a personal interest in Safeway; they were omnipresent in Virginia, including a location on the Northern Neck in Kilmarnock, in Richmond, and in Tidewater. Interestingly, in the 1970s, a small town like Kilmarnock had a full line A&P and a Safeway across the street. Today, the Kilmarnock Safeway has gone independent, and is now the Tri-Star.

We wrote about the Safeway private brand universe back in 2009.

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→ 1 CommentTags: News

Junk the Food That the Kraft Heinz Trust Dumps

May 22nd, 2017 · 3 Comments

By Garland Pollard

Perhaps this sounds a bit churlish to see cultural downfall in a child’s lunch. And to churlish, you might generously say inconsistent, as the vile concoction of items in a current Lunchables was something that was purchased by me in a fit of hurry and laziness.

After I had purchased the item, and it went into the fridge, I actually looked at it. It was of course a Lunchable, a trademarked youth food item sold by Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ: KHC). It contained nothing that would constitute a healthy lunch, and had many other offenses so obvious as to need to be spelled out. Not because they are not immediately visible to the average person, but because they are so easily seen, and yet obviously disregarded as offensive, as this is a product made by what was once a reputable maker of healthy, wholesome foodstuffs.

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→ 3 CommentsTags: Grocery

Revived Sea & Ski Hits the Beach Soon

May 19th, 2017 · 1 Comment

By Garland Pollard

ROCKLEDGE, FL – It seems that the historic Sea & Ski suntan lotion is coming back.

Sea & Ski now has a new website, and promises to be on the shelves for the 2017 summer season. The manufacturer is Cross-Bands Manufacturing, LLC, 1938 Murrell Road, Rockledge, FL 32955. Smart geographic branding; Rockledge is in Brevard County, Florida, very close to Cocoa Beach. Smart location. It is always good to have your product hail from a location that asserts and emphasizes the brand identity.

The packaging looks handsome and well done, with a color scheme quite close to the original. The key part is if they are able to reproduce the legendary smell. published a history of the product back in 2009, in hopes that it would be revived, and was the first to campaign for its re-introduction.

The lotion was invented by entrepreneur Charles Rolley, who Time magazine called a “kinetic promoter.” Rolley sold it to Botany Industries in 1955; in 1961 it was said to be the “nation’s biggest maker of suntan lotion.”

It sold out in the late 1960s to Smith-Kline Pharmaceuticals. The brand was owned by Carter-Wallace (they of the condoms and Carter’s Liver Pills) until 1988, when it was purchased by Faberge.

Read the history HERE.


→ 1 CommentTags: Health and Beauty

Bell’s Seasoning: Since 1867, American Culinary History in a Box

April 27th, 2017 · 1 Comment

By Garland Pollard

Perhap’s we should be writing about Bell’s Seasoning around Thanksgiving time, but the brand, founded in 1867, is a useful product all year round.

At one time there were dozens of such regionally popular brands; one by one they have been shut down, repackaged, reformulated or forgotten.

Bell’s, which is owned by contract manufacturer Brady Enterprises of East Weymouth, lingers on, thankfully. It has a cult following and generations of fans from all income groups. The sister company to Bell’s is Bar-Tenders Mixers.

In recent years, the regional brands that have survived, and not been reformulated or destroyed, have had renewed followings. These include Old Bay Seasoning, C. F. Sauer spices and Duke’s Mayonnaise. So many others have just been lost inside large companies, or just plain forgotten.

Shelf-stable food brands that are dried or canned make excellent independent brands; they do not require large sales volumes or sophisticated distribution networks to keep alive. [Read more →]

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J. Crew Problem: Snuffleupagus Pants & Emperor’s Ugly Clothes

April 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

NEW YORK – One of the great books read to me by my grandmother, a Sophie Newcomb educated potter by the name of Margaret Clarkson Pollard, were Hans Christian Anderson’s tales. Perhaps the most memorable was “The Emperor’s New Clothes” about an emperor, crooked weavers, and child who dared to be honest. A line that hits me afresh today:

“The swindlers at once asked for more money, more silk and gold thread, to get on with the weaving. But it all went into their pockets. Not a thread went into the looms, though they worked at their weaving as hard as ever.

What made it a great tale? First, the story was a safe time when you could discuss the idea of nudity with adults, and get a chuckle out of it. Secondly, streaking was a big fad in the ’70s, and the fable sort of turned that idea upside down. Indeed streaking was about causing a scene and endless laughter with nudity; could we ever imagine a society that was so brainwashed it would not notice an emperor in skivvies? Thirdly, the fable established a sort of subversive element to the establishment; I wonder today if the fable is read to North Korean children? Fourth, it showed that modesty was a virtue. Lastly, the whole moral idea of the fable was that children needed to express their most basic truths, openly, and would be rewarded and be  considered smart and adult if they did this. Plus, it was a good business tale. [Read more →]

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Brand Survivors: Esso, Premium and Red Cross Toothache

April 20th, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

It is always heartening when an old brand survives generations, world wars and multiple depressions and recessions. So it is that we noticed three brands that (sort of) live on, in various states of existence.

Esso: The Esso brand is still viable around the world, and just because Raymond Loewy did the Exxon logo for the United States, the great name associated with John D. Rockefeller lives on across the world. What some, however, forget is that ExxonMobil does a masterful job of keeping both the Esso and the Exxon brands alive. In the United States, diesel fuel is often sold as Esso Diesel. For companies that have merged a number of brands into one uber company (and that seems to be in every industry these days) keeping and old corporate or product brand alive is fairly simple. You continue to use the brand name on a sub-product. So, for instance, Esso appears across the world and in Canada, but in the states it shows up as a single product.

Nabisco Premium Crackers: A saltine is one of the great taste sensations that has little taste; the lightly crusted crackers achieve a charm unexpected when you dust them with salt. Nabisco Premium is the most venerable of the saltine brands, over Keebler’s Zesta and other store brands. Sadly, there seems to be less and less salt in a Premium, and that’s not good because salt (and of course light if we are reading our Gospel of Matthew) is what makes it zing. Let us remember the words of our savior, and apply them (carefully) to a favorite snack: [Read more →]

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Barclays Misses Their Own Brand with ‘Luxury Card’

April 18th, 2017 · No Comments

By Garland Pollard

It is among the more misguided efforts at branding I have ever seen. Barclays, the great banking brand from 1690, is trying to sell a ‘luxury’ product without its own name on it. It is the Luxury Card; all references to Barclays are completely hidden, in an effort to go after rich urban hipsters. There is Black Card, Gold Card and Platinum Card.

A Reddit post explained the stupidity of the effort quite clearly, and better than I could.

“So far, it seems like they gave a shot at trying to do something nice, but the whole thing feels…a bit silly, and gaudy in all honesty. Maybe even a bit fake. I’m not sure who the actual target demographic is, but it seems like the type of thing that would fit in well with the fake showy types that like to hang out in Miami. I can’t currently see it being worth it’s $995 annual fee — the second highest one in the US to my knowledge (after the Amex Cent), especially when there are better options like the Chase Ritz-Carlton, the City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite, and in terms of reward earning potential, as far as I can tell, the CSP (and certainly the Ink cards) seem better in practice.” [Read more →]

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Renovation for Your Brand Might Include Refit and Repair

April 12th, 2017 · 1 Comment

By Garland Pollard

Perhaps it is not such an issue now, but back in the fall of 2010 Hatteras Yachts was advertising the “Hatteras Refit Center” in marine magazines. The idea was that you could take your Hatteras back to the yard to be rebuilt.

This sort of approach is one way to build brand equity, though the company has ceased advertising the idea, and as the economy has improved, emphasizing this sort of thing would not be the ideal for the brand, which was once part of the giant AMF sporting goods company.

Nevertheless, boat companies are an excellent place for this sort of brand-building activity, which emphasizes the long term quality of the brand along with connecting you to the core strengths of the brand.

How companies deal with repairs, parts and the like says much about a brand. Any luxury Swiss watch brand knows its different products; someone who has a Patek Philippe watch can have the watch refurbished. In jewelry, this is an issue too; jeweler brands like Tiffany and Seamen Schepps are known to repair their old historic jewelry. It keeps a conversation going with customers, and fights the idea that goods are merely planned to be obsolescent.

When business slows down and your luxury product and brand is moving slowly, consider offering reconditioning services from the factory. It’s not an issue now, but will certainly be one in the future.

While times are good, ensure that your parts and repair inventory is strong, and  your repair personnel trained and thoughtful. It will pay off in current sales, as new customers like to know that a brand will stand behind their product. It also helps preserve the resale value of a brand, and anything that can ensure a high resale value is sure to increase the brand value. Think Toyota, Honda and John Deere.

Jewelers, clothiers, car companies and the like all can play the refit game.

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Eerily Prescient United Ad from 1989 That Gives Recovery Route Map

April 11th, 2017 · 1 Comment

By Garland Pollard

There is not a lot more that can be said about the dismal failure of United Airlines that has not been said, except that it proves the necessity of empowering your staff to serve customers, and not suffer rules over common sense. The company’s management is clueless, and it is evidence of how Aeroflot-like American transport companies have become.

Ironically, United ran an ad back in 1989 that explained how a company could grovel and make amends after it had suffered a major mistake. It’s a lesson in humility and seriousness, and the spirit that is in the ad is the contrite spirit of a company that was broken, and needs to go back to its customers and make amends. The ad is the answer to their problems, in a 60 second message.

In the ad, United Airlines is the solution to the problem, in that the unnamed company in the ad needs to visit its customers. Extrapolate that situation today; United has to go back to all of its customers, and make an new compact with them. The compact? We will be be nice, and not enforce rules with gestapo tactics.

Below, the ad “Face to Face” with the immortal advertising words, “Well folks, somethings got to change! That’s why were going to set out for a face to face chat with every customer we have.” [Read more →]

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