Thursday, June 22, 2017

Evening WATCH

It's a neighborhood thing:

"The wildly popular fidget spinners that seem to be in the hands of half the children in the United States are potentially dangerous, a consumer watchdog group warned Wednesday. The small plastic and metal spinners, already banned in many schools because they distract students, can fall apart, and the small pieces can create a choking hazard, Boston-based World Against Toys Causing Harm said in its summer safety report, released on the first day of summer. Children in Texas and Oregon have been taken to hospitals recently after choking on fidget spinner pieces, WATCH said. One required surgery. German customs officials last week destroyed 39 tons of the hand-held whirling gizmos over safety concerns. But WATCH doesn’t tell the whole story and ‘‘tends to needlessly frighten parents,’’ said Joan Lawrence, vice president of safety standards at the Toy Association, an industry group of toy manufacturers and retailers that helps develop safety standards. Toy safety is highly regulated under federal law, she said."

Time for my rounds, and the most important thing is..... 

"From clicks to bricks: Online shoe site M.Gemi to open Boston store" by Janelle Nanos Globe Staff  June 20, 2017

You can’t have too many shoes. Or enough venture capital. At least if you are trying to do what Ben Fischman is trying to do.

Fischman, a serial entrepreneur whose first startup was the Lids baseball cap chain, has raised $16 million for his latest venture, M.Gemi, a Boston-based online retailer that sells high-end Italian-made men’s and women’s shoes at prices far lower than their couture counterparts. The company has brought in a total of $47.2 million from investors.

About says it all, I gue$$.

In addition to Tuesday’s funding announcement, M.Gemi said it plans to open its second “fit shop,” an outlet in the Prudential Center where customers can check out its latest offerings before buying online.

After a career in Boston retail that started nearly 25 years ago, Fischman says he’s come full circle with a brick-and-mortar store.

“You hear so many people blaming e-commerce for the failure of the malls or traditional retailers,” Fischman said recently on the phone from M.Gemi’s office in Florence. “It really has to do with these retailers who thought they would never change and refused to disrupt their own business.”

That does it! I have HAD IT!

His new goal: To use the lessons drawn from e-commerce to create a smarter in-store experience for shoe shoppers. He calls it “disrupting luxury.”

Experiences led Fischman to learn about the importance of brand-building, and using e-mail marketing to add drama and drum-up business. It also led him to appreciate the unique infatuation a shoe buyer has when they’re on the hunt for the perfect pair.

“The word we use is obsession. We love our clients to be obsessed with what we do, whether it’s the 15-year-olds wearing baseball caps, or being daily obsessed with Rue La La sales,” he said.

Is that healthy though?

Fischman launched M.Gemi two years after stepping down from Rue La La in 2013. He established partnerships with Italian shoe factories, many of which had been passed over as larger luxury brands began move their manufacturing to Asia. By tracking trends, the company’s designers and data scientists use a rapid supply chain to gather real time information about what the customer wants, and to then determine what is and isn’t selling.

Now the company is bringing that same data-driven sensibility to storefronts. The Prudential Center store is M.Gemi’s second fit shop; the first opened in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood in December. Like e-retailers Warby Parker, Bonobos, and Everlane, it’s using a physical outpost as a chance to introduce shoppers to the brand.

“Retailers are finding that having an omni-channel strategy is beneficial,” said Jeff Donnelly, the managing director for real estate equity research at Wells Fargo’s Boston office. Research has shown that having both a physical and online presence spurs sales on both channels, he said. “Some people see it as a form of 24/7 advertising.”

But that doesn’t mean shoppers will go home with a pair of M.Gemis, which average $250 a pair, upon first meeting.

“We did not want it to feel like a traditional retail shoe store,” said the company’s president and cofounder, Cheryl Kaplan. While so many luxury stores feel off-limits to shoppers, the fit shops aim to be accessible. “It’s not transactional, it’s a place they like to go.”

That thinking manifests in many ways: There are no cash registers or counters, instead, associates gather shoppers’ fit and style preference data on tablets. Rather than pay rent to inventory thousands of styles and sizes, the stores will have only two of each shoe on-site; should you decide to buy, the company will ship your pair from their warehouse in a few days.

If I wanted to order them from a warehouse I would have stayed home and done it online!

Associates use their tablets to place orders, but they’re also noting shopping preferences — a predilection for pumps perhaps, or a fondness for kitten heels — and use that data to steer purchases online later. The store will also echo the online drama of the weekly “drops” of new products in order to lure customers in. 

I just want a goddamn pair of shoes, not a sales pitch to go with them.

Fischman says the new fit shops and funding — which includes a new investor, Burda Principal Investments based in Germany — will help the company expand its footprint, both in the United States and abroad.....

HA-HA-HA. Very punny.


The neighborhood beat:

"Wayfair’s founders achieve billionaire status" by Tom Metcalf Bloomberg News  June 21, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO —The once-frugal founders of Wayfair Inc. have become billionaires after a revenue surge helped the online retailer’s value rise to a record.

Investors embracing the Boston company’s expansion strategy pushed the stock to a record high last week, giving cofounders Niraj Shah and Steve Conine a net worth of $1.37 billion each, as of noon Wednesday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Together, they hold 40 percent and nearly all voting rights for the online seller of sofas, beds, and a wide variety of other home furnishings — a reflection of the thrifty approach they pursued for almost a decade as they spurned outside capital.

“I probably spent three years bugging Niraj to take my money,” said Alex Finkelstein, a venture capitalist at Spark Capital who led a $165 million investment round in 2011 and served on Wayfair’s board until 2015. “They built the company to an incredible scale without raising money.”

Shah, 43, and Conine, 44, declined to comment.

Wayfair shares have more than doubled this year, the best performance, by far, in the 97-company S&P Retail Select Industry Index, which includes The stock closed at $75.41 Wednesday, up 1.2 percent.

Shah and Conine, who met at Cornell University and studied engineering, founded Wayfair in 2002 and stitched together a network of more than 250 stand-alone websites, including and Almost a decade later, they began to consolidate the sites and set out to build brand awareness. To pay for it, they raised $351 million in venture funding in 2011 and about $283 million in an initial public offering three years later.

Wayfair’s revenue more than quintupled from 2012 to 2016, to about $3.38 billion, while its net loss more than doubled from 2015 to $194.4 million as the company increased spending on advertising, infrastructure, and international expansion.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg predict Wayfair will post additional losses this year and next before approaching break-even in 2019.

The quest for revenue has produced a vocal cohort of skeptics who question whether Wayfair’s business model can ever result in profits.

Bearish bets on the company account for 24 percent of the publicly traded float, making it the 145th-most-shorted stock in the Russell 2000 Index.

Who knows it is going to dump, and these guys grabbing the loot before the collapse?

Citron Research’s Andrew Left argues that the retailer is simply buying growth. “They are showing no path toward profitability whatsoever,” he said.

That is why they need the state tax subsidies.

Oh, btw.....

Left also suggested that Jeff Bezos’s may enter the market, and Furniture Today reported in April that the online retail giant may change its furniture-selling platform so that stores can offer custom delivery services at different prices.

“Amazon could be a big threat and might easily take away shoppers, as anybody who’d shop on Wayfair is likely already an Amazon customer,” said Seema Shah, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “Bezos is a threat to everybody.”

Shah and Conine, who have more than 95 percent of their personal fortunes tied to Wayfair, remain undaunted, arguing that the furniture category is protected from Amazon’s advance.

“We are pretty bullish that the investments we’ve been making are working,” Shah said on a May 9 conference call with analysts. “There’s still a lot of those gains ahead of us.”

And if they need to get bought out they have a nice ne$t egg.


So what will you be watching tonight?

"Steven Mnuchin has officially declared he’s out of the motion-picture business. The Treasury secretary, who had promised to sell his stake in a Hollywood financing company RatPac-Dune by last week, said in a filing released Tuesday that he has completed all divestitures under his ethics agreement. He didn’t name a buyer or disclose a sale price. That would mean the former Goldman Sachs Group executive and onetime hedge fund manager will no longer back major motion pictures such as “Wonder Woman” while helping run the economy for President Trump. Mnuchin has co-financed blockbusters including “Avatar,” one of the biggest box-office successes ever, and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” RatPac-Dune struck a deal with Warner Bros. in 2013 to provide $450 million in funding for as many as 75 movies. “Wonder Woman” has already taken in more than $570 million, according to Box Office Mojo, after scoring the largest opening for a film directed by a woman."

I'm saddened that he was involved with Avatar, and how she doing?

Don't let the Midnight Special shine a light on you:

"What are those weird green things under the highway?" by Steve Annear Globe Staff  June 21, 2017

People are comparing the large green objects that suddenly appeared beneath Interstate 93 between the South End and South Boston to enormous invasive insects or creatures from outer space.

But fear not — the city isn’t being overrun by creepy monsters lurking below the busy overpass.


The tall metal frames that were erected last month are actually just artistic light fixtures that are part of an ongoing reinvention project headed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

The state budget is allegedly bleeding but they have money for this?

Called “Infra-Space 1,” the project’s overall goal is to transform the dark and desolate area beneath the highway into a place that’s more inviting, while also offering increased accessibility to residents and neighbors, according to MassDOT officials.

The green fixtures, which are referred to as “dinosaur lights” because of their shape and design, are meant to add to the overall ambiance of the reimagined space between Albany Street and Frontage Road.

They come with cameras?

On a Facebook page for South Boston residents Monday, the presence of the unusual formations had many users scratching their heads, as they tried to make sense of their arrival.

“Praying Mantis?” one person wrote on the discussion thread.

“Alien overlords?” someone else joked....


RelatedGlobe Saw a UFO