Samir Kulkarni is CEO and owner of Showcase, a national retailer and “Home of the Hottest Trends” with 119 stores in top malls across Canada and the USA. Showcase’s combination of i) proprietary trend identification technology, ii) nimble supply chain, and iii) interactive store environment has propelled it to retail leadership of the greatest emerging trends in health, beauty, home, and toys over 25 years. Showcase’s unique model has been recognized by Deloitte’s Best Managed Companies 2021 and 2022, YPO Top 10 Global Innovators, and the ERA’s Omnichannel Retail Excellence Award in 2022. Dubbed by Inc. Magazine as “the man who turned trend hunting into retail gold”, Samir appears regularly in the media to discuss Showcase, its products, and the trend retailing industry – ranging from CBC to CTV, Global News, Retail Insider, Voice of Retail podcast, and more. Samir also serves on the Board of Directors of the Retail Council of Canada. Samir holds an MBA from Yale University and lives near Toronto.
Finally, a retailer is entering the U.S. market and taking advantage of those toy deserts that have existed since the demise of Toys R Us. That retailer is Showcase, opening 27 U.S. locations this summer, primarily in the Northeast and Great Lakes areas. Showcase’s toy vendors and licensor partners include Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, KellyToy, Zuru, Pokemon, Just Toys, Spinmaster, Jazwares, MGA, and more.
Here is a list of the new U.S. locations:
- Westfarms, Hartford, CT
- Woodfield Mall, Chicago, IL
- Burlington Mall, Burlington, MA
- Holyoke Mall, Holyoke, MA
- Natick Mall, Natick, MA
- Northshore Mall, Peabody, MA
- South Shore Place, Braintree, MA
- Arundel Mills, Hanover, MD
- Mall in Columbia, Columbia, MD
- Towson Town Center, Towson, MD
- Great Lakes Crossing, Auburn Hills, MI
- Twelve Oaks, Novi, MI
- Mall of New Hampshire, Manchester, NH
- Mall at Rockingham Park, Salem, NH
- Pheasant Lane Mall, Nashua, NH
- Paramus Park, Paramus, NJ
- Rockaway Townsquare Mall, Rockaway, NJ
- Willowbrook Mall, Wayne, NJ
- Eastview Mall, Rochester, NY
- Palisades Center, West Nyack, NY
- Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove, NY
- Walt Whitman, Huntington Station, NY
- Beachwood Place, Beachwood, OH
- Park City Center, Lancaster, PA
- South Hills Village, Pittsburgh, PA
- Providence Place, Providence, RI
- Fair Oaks, Fairfax, VA
This is good news for the U.S. toy industry and America’s consumers, both children, and adults. I wanted to learn more, so I spoke with Showcase C.E.O. Samir Kulkarni. He told me the company has been around since 1994, providing consumers with only the hottest and newest products. Today the company has 109 Canadian locations and 10 US locations.
The 1500 square foot stores are mall-based and carry approximately 500 toy SKUs. The store concept, size, and locations sound like Brookstone and Sharper Image. The difference is that Brookstone and Sharper Image are gone or almost gone while Showcase has thrived. I asked Samir why the difference in outcomes.
He explained that Brookstone and Sharper Image were not interested in what people wanted so much as creating new and different products with which to surprise them. Showcase, however, is all about listening to consumers and only giving them what they want.
Showcase uses what Samir calls “Trend Technology” to track what’s hot. Samir, who describes himself as more a statistician than a retailer, explained that by using proprietary algorithms, the company could track what consumers are talking about or asking for in their social networks and on entertainment platforms
Being first to market is essential for Showcase. They therefore need to have products in stock before other retailers catch on. Samir explained that Showcase is built for speed. They do their own product and packaging development (70% of their SKUs are private label) and control their supply chain, so they have developed an average concept-to-shelf delivery time of just 53 days.
Speed does not stop at the store door. The company changes planograms and pricing weekly and resupplies the stores on a just-in-time basis.
Showcase is a smart, efficient, highly focused, and fast to market company. They are a welcome addition to the U.S. toy marketplace. Click here if you are interested in becoming a vendor.