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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Women's Apparel Sales Down

I heard this news on NPR radio (KUT 90.5 in Austin) on December 26. It was a takeoff on The New York Times story on the women's apparel sales slump it called an, "ominous holiday sign". Lets assume women's apparel sales are down at your business: What do you make of it? Do you see it as the glass being half full, or half empty? That is, do you see it as opportunity or gloom.

Four points stand out on which I would like to comment.

1 What do analysts see as the reason for this situation? Some, "Analysts blamed a rough economy".

2 Others see this situation as one which could, ". . .could result in steeper-than-expected discounts".

3 Yet another reason for cited for the problem was "lackluster merchandise in the mall", and “There is a lot of sameness” in stores, Mr. Morris said.

4 Finally, analysts expressed surprise at the enduring strength of online spending.

First, the ecomony is a big blanket. It's too easy for analysts in a holiday rush to blurp that one out for inquiring reporters wanting to get the scoop on holiday spending pulse. It says alot and it says nothing for myself, a non-economist.

Second, this speaks to that secret the cat let out of the bag long ago: Apparel merchandise price markups are steep. Yes, that's an understatement, but it also serves to the point that it's an equally steep descent when those prices come down as "discounts" for customers.

Third, "lackluster" and "sameness" in off-the-rack, readywear apparel are synonyms of one another. Rich or poor, people are increasingly aware they need not settle for the same-mold-same-old (truthfully, this is the first time I ever write that phrase and if it's not the one you know I think mine speaks accurately to the issue lol). Robyn Waters, in "The Hummer and the Mini" has written long and well on this trend of consumers rebelling against the "one size fits none" (not her phrase) of manufactured goods.

Lastly, there should be no surprise about the enduring strength of online spending. As I have posted before, women's apparel sales surpassed the behemouth juggernaut of computer manufacturing sales in 2007 for the first since the advent of Internet sales and data compliation.

I am not persuaded women (and moms, as the story relates) let up on their personal shopping needs and wants for the holiday season. The story focuses on sales data mined by a credit card company. Quite likely, those were mega-chain store retailers, not the mom and pop, independent apparel boutique retailers behind those sales figures.

As I have stated before there are over 40 million (per the Home Sewing Association) people in America who sew in their homes. Although the HSA cannot say what percentage do so for leisure or profit when you take into account the number of people who have worked in apparel manufacturing I believe they are behind this sales slump. How, you ask? I'm all alone on this one, but I believe just as we are seeing in Austin so too in other parts of the country consumers, women, particularly, are discovering the wonderful world of apparel fashion and style at local independent retailers. These retailers, particularly if they have are having their apparel made by local individual, independent contractor/designers do not show up on the sales radar for mainstream data businesses such as credit card companies. It's not an ominous sign. The glass is not half empty. It's a great sign of opportunity being taken advantage of by independents. What do you think?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

The assassination on Thursday of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi produced a sick feeling in my stomach.

It was lunchtime in my seventh grade class in 1963 when our classmate Linda came rushing in with tear-soaked face calling aloud President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

I do not profess intimate knowledge of Pakistan, its people, culture and issues other than the smattering of news from the media. Still, I was not alone in my hopes for what this remarkable woman held for the future of Pakistan.

Were she my enemy I would not rejoice, for, says, the Lord, "Do not rejoice in the fall of your enemy". Were she my friend, I would grieve her death.

Benazir Bhutto was among those who live their lives in total commitment in the service of a cause for the benefit of others.

I am saddened by the loss of my friend.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

You Who Are Spiritual

Whether in sports, business or home, the pursuit or development of one's spirituality can be second to nothing. At the same time the pursuit of spirituality cannot be an excuse for everything else in our lives running into ruin.

Spirituality is not the domain of "holy men" or recluses. It is neither vague, mystical nor unattainable. It is what enables one to navigate self as well as offer and give guidance to others in life neither one of which a "holy man" or recluse can do in their isolation and detachness from life.

It is not something to claim or boast of self. Its best claim is when it is heard as the testimony given by others of a spiritual person.

Jesus demonstrated the marks, that is, the characteristics of a spiritual.

The link opens to a little bit more as to what constitutes a spiritual.

As always, your comments are welcome either on Associated Content or this blog.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


This is a comment I posted on regarding technicians, engineers, hobbyists and resellers.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Hollywood writers' right

The ongoing Hollywood writers' strike has put the limelight on the ability of unions to negotiate on behalf of their membership. The latest development in the strike involves the writers' union, the Writers Guild of America, proposal to negotiate directly with studios and bypassing the studios' respresentative; the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The union's strategy would have been anathema twenty-five years ago. Perhaps, after too many loses to count, labor unions have become more resourceful when engaged in negotiations with employers. Too many jobs have vanquished because the strike mindset was one of crash and burn rather than reach an agreement. Those union officials remained union officials in the strikes' aftermath. Those employees became unemployed. If the company didn't go under completely it joined the ranks of offshore, outsourced jobs. Individual and corporate profits will not be lost in the strike. You cannot loose what you do not have so while they may not make any money they can and will survive the writers' strike quite well. They can jump ship at any moment, leave and re-emerge with a new company of their own hiring eager, unemployed writers.

The strike, the first in less than twenty years, has also revealed the extent to which writing, a craft associated with free expression and independence, has allowed itself to be bound to unions, contracts, negotiations and strikes so completely. This holds equally true of writers in other, non-entertainment areas including the press; another American freedom imperiled. Writers' purport to look ahead to secure DVD future residual compensation for themselves. They could review a four point comparison between unions and networks, as well. It's the writers' right. . .if the union permits it.

membership fees

Both require membership fees in order to join the organization. It is safe to say network fees are considerably less. Yes, union membership provides benefits, but many of those benefits are available from non-union employers, as well.

members' compensation

Unions negotiate with employers to establish employee compensation. Network members negotiate their own compensation agreements with their service recipients. Network members determine the growth and expansion of their own residual income generating network.


Unions stand between the restrictive, contractual (job) relationships of employer/employee. Network member relationships (business) are between themselves as independent service providers and their clients; service recipients. Network members are free to conduct business with or without network members.

other interested parties

Unions negotiate to secure member benefits from employers for their employees. Networks are entreprenuerial. Members are in business for themselves, but not by themselves.

Hollywood writers have done no different than countless other workers in America. They have settled for the illusive "security" of the job. However, writers, too, can take their Knowledge, Skills and Experience they have acquired in their field and create their own Independent Enterprise Network. Who might their clients be you ask? The independent film industry for starters. How long would it take before mainstream studios turned to the writing talent of independent films? The Internet, with its various appendages such as YouTube, could accomplish more for the partnership of independent film/writers than any union contract.

Merry Christmas HO! HO! HO! to one and all!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Independent Enterprise Networks

I am amazed by the spirit of enterprise with which some people launch into their passion. People without abilities many of us possess have done far more. Some either were born without eyesight or lost it, but that did not deter them from realizing their dream. Others without the ability to read launched businesses which provided a livelihood for others. Still, others without all their limbs have been unimpeded in their determined spirit to realize their dream.
Truly, it's not what you possess, but how you use it to accomplish your desired goals.
It's not quite an accomplishment when I come to the realization of a mere matter of word choice. I refer to my use of "independent contractor" when speaking and writng on networks and the decision to replace it. The more accurate word choice is "Independent Enterprise Networks" (IE-Networks) as these networkers include contractors and retailers.
Independent Enterprise Networks can extend into a large and assorted variety of fields and industries. Although the initial focus of IE-Networks in these blogs has been at-home apparel and computer enterprises the business model will extend into:
Floor maintenance
Satellite dish installation
Automotive repair
Air conditioning installation/repair
People, whether in Texas or the US who make their livelhood ("have a job") as employees or possess the Knowledge, Skills and Experience may continue to do so. However, they can choose to build their own at-home enterprise AND network. A stand-alone enterprise is "owning a job". Independent Enterprise Networks are systems which grow and generate income for the networker whether or not he/she comes into the shop, today.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dell launches channel program

I wish Dell success with their channel program. However, it does bring to mind the short-lived white-box sales program a few years ago.

Like the white-box program, the channel program is top-hand heavy. Dell, or other computer vendors, could play the channel with both hands on the table with contractors and resellers with products and services. This would be in keeping with Dell's DNA as a direct model vendor, . . .with a slight helical twist. How?

Dell leverages its knowledge, experience and position with suppliers to become a supplier directly to an independent contractor and reseller network. This is a level playing field seeded and strengthened by relationships. Relationships, precisely what was missing years ago and what is essential in reaching the low-income, white-box consumer market in America.