Happy Force Friday one and all. I’m still away, so unfortunately I missed the opportunity to conduct a spot of midnight shopping. I look forward to hearing how it went – in particular, it will be interesting to see whether the bulk of the initial customers are children or adult collectors. Mind you, I’m sure it won’t matter either way to retailers: a sale is a sale whichever way you look at it.
Congratulations to David Ripley, who has joined Groupon in a consultancy role across the toys, kids and pet division.
There have been a few other stories which have caught my eye this week: one American article I saw talked about major retailers approaching Chinese vendors to get better prices in the light of the current Chinese currency situation. However, I suspect their approaches may not be met with an entirely positive response, largely of the retailers’ own making. Since retailers across the globe tend to adopt a seemingly non-negotiable ‘no price increases’ stance – and the larger the retailer, the more intransigent they seem to be on this point – Chinese factories will surely be reluctant to drop prices in the short term, as they won’t see a way to raise them back up if the currency fluctuations reverse over the coming months. So my guess is a stand-off and no movement either way, but I’ll be keen to hear from people heading out to the Far East in the coming weeks if I’ve got that wrong.
Another story which jumped out at me was the news that Toys R Us is apparently negotiating with the new owners of New York’s Brill Building to re-locate its flagship Manhattan branch and the former FAO Schwartz store to this hallowed building. When I first visited New York over 20 years ago, the Brill Building was on the list of New York landmarks I wanted to see: like Liverpool’s Cavern Club or Manchester’s Hacienda, it is a legendary place for fans of a certain type of music. On one level, I don’t recollect that the building itself is particularly suitable for a large retail venture (especially the iconic frontage, which it would surely be a shame to destroy), but on the other hand, if someone has to take up residence, the unbridled fun and creativity of a toy store would at least be in keeping with the ethos of the former legendary songwriting palace.
On the subject of music, I hear that David Bowie is among the people said to be writing songs for the new Spongebob musical, which is due to open on Broadway next year. This may seem at first sight to be a slightly incongruous pairing, but lest we forget, this is the man who wrote and recorded The Laughing Gnome (if you’re under a certain age and have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s well worth a visit to Spotify – and while you’re listening, bear in mind that Bowie is widely held as one of the coolest and most-critically acclaimed musicians ever….). So it’s fair to say that he has form in this area and I’m definitely looking forward to hearing the results of the collaboration.
Finally, as people seem to enjoy pictures of toys from around the world, here is a picture of a Super Soaker being put to a new and original use: unless, of course, firing tequila into people’s mouths at a pool foam party was in the original instruction manual and I missed it. See you at Autumn Fair next week.