So I’m in the Dallas airport at gate A29 having my typical lunch at Pappasito’s after an incredible week in Boston at the Magowitz event. (More on that next week.) My mother calls me in tears as she has been riding out Hurricane Harvey with my Dad, sister, brother and his wife and two kids. To say that they have been under tremendous stress would be an understatement.
My mom tells me that they have lost their home to flooding and it looks like my brother is going to lose his as well. That means pretty much everything you own is ruined, and the house that you look forward to going to every night as your place to seek refuge and peace is gone. My eyes begin to well up and tears start rolling down my cheeks as I hear the distress in my Mom’s voice, realizing that their life and the lives of so many others have taken a serious detour.
I hang up the phone and start to dry my eyes and when I look up this lady is standing in front of me. At that point I realize I’m in a public place and I feel a little stupid crying in my food. She says to me, “it looks like you are having a tough day and could use a hug, do you mind if I give you one?” “Not at all”, was my quick response. This lady didn’t know me. She had no idea if I would tell her to get lost, or if I was a creep, but she knew that she could help; and she did.
I want to make a simple point. Don’t ever underestimate your ability to make an impact on a friend or a complete stranger. Remember to call someone after their medical test to see how they are, call a friend on a birthday, pick up a check for a soldier in a restaurant, or in this case, deliver a well timed hug. The little things are what make the biggest impact and all it takes is some empathy and heart. Think outside of yourself. Always.
There are going to be many more tears, more random acts of kindness, and a lot of hard work ahead. (Harvey delivered 19 trillion gallons of water with over 51″ of rain pushing 19,000 people into shelters so far.) Events like this bring out the worst in people like looters and contractors that take advantage of a situation. But it can also bring out the very best which we are already seeing on the news reports.
Make a call. Send out a prayer. Donate some money. Travel to Houston with your church or friend group and donate your time to rebuild a home. I promise you that you will never give more than you get in a situation like that. Or if you see someone in an airport having a tough day offer them a hug or a pat on their back, you never know what it could do. It sure made me feel better.
Before we start, don’t miss this week’s podcast where we talk about all of the INCREDIBLE auction items at the Seena Magowitz Golf Classic this weekend in Boston. Dos Marcos (Mark Quinn and Mark Kinsley) will be the auctioneers again this year hoping to raise some big money for a terrific cause. If you want to bid on some really great items, give this a listen to preview those. How about a private jet to Napa Valley for a few days? Listen HERE.
So…you’re a retailer in a competitive market and it’s not easy is it? If you want to succeed you have to battle your competition for “A” location real estate, create advertising that drives the consumer to your store with great stories and offers, create a shopping experience that separates you from everyone else, and sell products that nobody can buy from your competition. I had you up until that last part about products, didn’t I?
Retailers try hard to make themselves different. When you ask most people what separates them from the competition the typical answer is our people, our stores, maybe a unique in home trial and if you’re lucky enough you might have a slight variation on your products. Manufacturer’s build mattress with different ticking and different names so that the big guys don’t have to share their line and compete with the middle to small sized retailers. Retailers push hard for exclusives so that they can leverage a feature or entire line of mattresses because with that comes better margin, the perception that they are a leader in the market because they have something that nobody else has, and the ability to lean into something special. The problem is that manufacturers aren’t really set up for mass customization. Even if they were, how many incredible innovations are there in this business that would really set your “exclusive” product apart from the rest? Sure, you can have a mattress supplier put a 1/3″ of foam in the center third of your bed and call it zoning but how compelling is that. Really?
Spink and Edgar has been growing at a healthy rate this year because of the fact that we are the answer to what many buyers are looking for. We have a story that is unlike anything ever brought to the United States because it’s authentic, compelling, delivers big margins, has best selling price points of $4,000-5,000 at retail, and is very limited when it comes to distribution giving our partners some exclusivity. None of that matters unless your product delivers an incredible look and feel different from anything in the market. We are very happy to say, we have that also. So far we are getting placement with some of the best retailers in our industry and we are incredibly grateful for it. Larry Miller and Nelson Bercier started us out with Sit’N Sleep, then we launched with Lorie Silva at Jordan’s, then with Dan Murphy at Gabbert’s/HOM, and are about to launch with David Shiroff at Metro Mattress. (Not to mention many other high-quality retailers.) As I think about our retail partners they all have one thing in common. They are product geeks. Larry, Nelson, Lorie, Dan and David have all been in this industry for a LONG time, have had great success selling and creating beds of their own, and are some of the toughest product people out there. They are in a very elite class when it comes to knowing what works so when they chose us it really told us something. Want to talk about a win/win? We deliver them something special, and they champion what we do to the consumer. How often does something really special come along in this business?
There are some good luxury brands out there but not much separates them from one another. Yes they are high-quality products, made well, and they look good and feel good. Most of these brands probably started out saying they would limit distribution but they really didn’t. Is your luxury brand over sold making it less special to your stores? Stearns and Foster just showed up at Costco as just one example to prove my point. So again it comes down to aligning yourself with a partner that really is committed to your best interest. If you ask our retailers I am confident they would tell you we are.
If you are a retailer and are reading this blog post, consider this. Your people can definitely help differentiate you from your competitors but after that, it’s tough to do something big enough to make a difference. If you want to create an experience with a product that will have people leaving your store talking about their new bed to friends at a cocktail party that same night, then give Spink and Edgar a look. Think I am exaggerating? It happens all the time. Who else on their block sleeps on a bed that was grown on a farm in the countryside of Yorkshire, England and celebrated by the Queen?
If you look at what we do, want to be a leader in your market like some of the top retailers in the country already carrying Spink and Edgar, AND you absolutely love it, then send me a note at email@example.com. We are looking to grow with the right partners and we hope that it’s you.
First, before I get started today my apologies for not posting the past few weeks. My family and I have been on the road visiting other family members at a big reunion in Missouri and in the beautiful mountains of Montana and it has been pretty busy. Family first right?
Second, please note at the top of the blog is direct access to the Dos Marcos Podcast so don’t miss an episode; we will be recording a few more this week. Hear about Mark Kinsley and his new job as a baby sherpa, my trip with my son Nick to Jordan’s Furniture, and a detailed discussion about what is in this blog today.
We just finished another Vegas Market that seemed to be a big success for the people that I spoke to. Traffic was okay but the good thing about July is that most of the folks attending are there to conduct business. There was a lot of BUZZ in the halls about things going on in the industry so if you missed it let me recap the hottest topics for you.
Who is coming out of the divorce better, Mattress Firm or Tempur-Pedic? Who has the best strategy and who is executing their plan? Will the new Tempur-Pedic replacement products and marketing approach be able to replace the Tempur-Pedic volume? Will Tempur-Pedic be able to regain all of that lost business going after current dealers, expanding with key partners into other territories and placing more focus on their direct to consumer channel?
There are some large retailers upset with Serta/Simons Bedding for getting so close to Mattress Firm with big investments for advertising and giving them product exclusives. Will they lose more of their loyal dealer base than it was worth? Simmons now features Mattress Firm exclusives on their website so what is the impact of that if any?
Is Steve Fendrich and team really going to take over the world opening 500 stores with strong backing from Tempur/Sealy? I had a chance to catch up with Steve and I would suggest talking to him before buying into all of the rumors around this. But make no mistake, they are on the move.
For me, it is always great to talk directly to the grapevine and see what it is dishing out. As you might guess there was no shortage of opinion when it came to these topics and I’ve heard several theories that I had not considered. The bottom line here is that we all have to sit back and watch things evolve, pay attention to what people DO vs. what they SAY, and then align ourselves with companies that share our values and align with our goals. If you are having trouble finding a company that can help you get the results your after then you might want to look in new places. More on that next week!
I have two awesome kids, Gabby 15 and Nicholas (Nick) 13. I have been sharing news with them about the progress of Spink and Edgar from the beginning and they have both shown a lot of interest so my wife and I decided that it would be a good idea to let them see things first hand. So this week I took Nick with me on a trip to Boston to visit Jordan’s stores and get a look at what the mattress industry is all about. Here are a few things that Nick learned during his trip.
If you are going to be in business you have to separate yourself from everyone else. That means your personal brand and that of your company. You can wear a Micky Mouse neckties to help start conversations or learn a magic trick to share with people so you are more memorable. Whatever it is, you have to be different. When Nick walked into Jordan’s and saw a ropes course and Imax Theatre, he understood that your company needs to be different as well. (A BIG thank you to Peter Bolton at Jordan’s for delivering a first class experience at the Red Sox game and for investing in Nick. A good lesson for us all; have other people coach your kids because they can make a different kind of impact.) Peter made Nick feel like a real businessman and I love that he did that.
Many in the mattress business build their product lines with fancy stories in a language that is difficult to understand. Here is a good test for your brand…have a 13-year-old go in and read all of your point of sale, look at your website and interface with your product. If it doesn’t come together to the degree that they TOTALLY get what you are trying to say, then what you are doing is probably too complicated.
Connect with people. We had an experience where a few retail sales people needed clarification on certain aspects of our program so we stayed late with them one night and talked to them until they were more excited about Spink and Edgar mattresses. Nick learned that it is important to make an effort to ask good questions so you can understand where other people are coming from. If you do that, you can overcome just about anything. Seek FIRST to understand.
If you haven’t already done something like taking your son or daughter to work, I highly recommend it. Nick and I went to a Red Sox game, took a tour of TD Garden, visited Yale University in New Hampshire, hit Time Square in New York and saw Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. We also did a LOT OF WORK. 🙂 We were very tired at the end of it all but we made some incredible memories. Many thanks to Peter Bolton, Josh Tatleman, and Brad Graham along with everyone at Jordan’s that was so nice to Nick. You guys made the kind of impact on Nick that he will never forget. That WE will never forget. THANK YOU, it meant more than you know!
When I first traveled to England to meet with Simon Spinks in person I was privileged to stay at his home and meet his incredible wife Andrea and daughter Emily or “Em” as her friends know her. At age two, Em was diagnosed with a severe form of autism preventing her from being able to speak and causing her to be terrified by her own environment making even a simple trip to the store a major ordeal. Em has dealt with some of those issues by ensconcing herself in a world of art and music. She has become a great artist and when I was there I was able to see some of her work. I was blown away. Andrea sends me a note from time to time on what Em is up to and recently sent me this piece that will now be hanging on my office wall opposite my desk. I am placing it where I can see it every day for a few good reasons.
I love the work.
Em can’t speak and for a long time couldn’t even be out in public but yet she discovered something great inside of herself. A way for her to share and express something in her heart and mind. What is hidden in me/you? What untapped potential is there that I am not pushing hard enough to uncover?
Andrea and Simon are great parents to Em and encourage her at ever turn. They don’t accept that Em’s diagnosis would keep her in one spot, they push her to realize her potential. What remains hidden because we don’t have a big enough expectation of ourselves, our kids, our company?
Real treasure has nothing to do with money.
Andrea and Em have taken this passion a step further and have opened up a shop they call Em’s People. This is a retail store and art studio that allows for other young adults with autism a place to express their creativity and to promote their independence and employability. So the next time you are in Selby, England you need to pop in and take something special home with you.
Em’s art used to inspire family and friends but is now doing so much more. My heartfelt thanks to Andrea and Em for sending me this piece and for showing us all what “could be”.
If you want to get involved locally in supporting the search for a cure to autism I suggest you give my friend Doug Krinsky a call. He has been putting on the Ante4Autism event for the past 9 years at the Vegas furniture market and it is a total blast to attend. DO NOT MISS IT!