As we head into Toy Fair our minds turn to the rmajor retailers and its buyers whose decisions can make or break a season and even a company. In some ways, retailers seem so powerful, yet on the other hand some of the most notable of them have ceased to exist. So, how vulnerable are retailers, particularly in light of so many challenges from world economies and technology?
For starters, I decided to see who the top three retailers were almost 100 years ago. They were A&P, Woolworth’s and United Cigar Stores. A&P is now 155 years old, and though no longer the dominating force it once was, is still in business. Woolworth U.S. lasted for an impressive 118 years but United Cigar Stores? What was United Cigar? They were a retailer, founded in 1901, that sold…well…they sold cigars…and later watches and more. They lasted until 1951 and at one time had over 3,000 stores. Interestingly, there used to be an outlet right across from the Toy Building.
That was some pretty good longevity. But, how long have today’s major retailers been around; that in my next posting?