It's been another weird week in retail. Build-A-Bear's brilliant idea to boost store traffic ended up inciting mobs, MGM's plans for a Handmaid's Tale wine collection went sour and indestructible jeans arrived with a warranty that will last longer than any good fashion statement should.
This, and more, in this week's retail therapy.
Where best friends are ... fighting over discounts
Build-A-Bear, like so many specialty mall-based retailers that were once all the rage (i.e. Hot Topic, Claire's and Wet Seal) is struggling to stay relevant. Toys R Us knows a thing or two about falling at the hands of children and actually contributed to the recent decline in store traffic, executives at the teddy bear maker said in the company's latest earnings call.
But somewhere in a corner office a lightbulb went off — and with that, Pay Your Age Day was born. Talk about a plan for driving store traffic at a store where each fluffy friend is $35 to $60 a piece.
It should come as little surprise that on Thursday thousands upon thousands of customers swarmed stores across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. for their chance to take home a bear at a fraction of the price — and creepiness — of a Hatchimal. The catch, though, was that shoppers had to join the company's membership program.
In theory, it was a well-intended idea to boost membership and surge stores back to life with new shoppers. In practice, the too-good-to-be-true deal didn't end up well at all. Local media reports from around the country cited instances where security officers and police had to assist long winding — and sometimes unruly — crowds.
Alas, only hours after the glorious discounts were unveiled they were shut down. It's safe to say that parents with screaming toddlers who had been waiting in line for five hours weren't exactly happy. Many turned to Twitter to voice their frustration. And the company sheepishly tweeted back coupons for those that became Bonus Club members that day.
If only Build-A-Bear could construct a non-chaotic marketing strategy.
@buildabear PAY YOUR AGE' turned out to be a joke.. turned up to what was a queue to the end of the shopping centre door (2hr wait apparently). Staff advised people to come back around 3.30.. came back and the shops closed with a sign. Lol. Nice one Build A Bear ???????? #buildabear pic.twitter.com/rmz2WJbGh3— Aneesa Khan (@AneesaxKhan) July 12, 2018
My Dearest Love— Ludibriumventis (@ludibriumventis) July 12, 2018
The fighting is intense, and the wails and cries of the women and children can be heard from far and wide. I despair we shall never see a resolution to this dreadful conflict.
Take care of Fluffy for me, for I fear I shall never return#buildabear
**Urgent Alert:— Build-A-Bear Workshop (@buildabear) July 12, 2018
Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our locations due to crowd safety concerns. We have closed lines in our stores. We understand some Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible. https://t.co/aSFfPCcfsG pic.twitter.com/WZJ53tOAEH
Our Pay Your Age Day generated an overwhelming response. Please refer to our website for info about a voucher for our Bonus Club members. Thank you for your patience and support. US: https://t.co/uFX3ckPC8w UK: https://t.co/71BsjjTG9p pic.twitter.com/vuCMQM6lKQ— Build-A-Bear Workshop (@buildabear) July 12, 2018
Blessed be not the fruity wines
Entertainment and advertising executives have long lived by the motto that sex sells. Not only is this a dated and sexist strategy, but for those merchandising for The Handmaid's Tale, it's downright tone deaf.
This week, MGM and wine seller Lot18 pulled a Lunya and made plans to profit off of a wine collection that trivializes three of the most prominent characters in a dystopian plot about the abuse of women.
People exclusively revealed the launch of the collection on Tuesday, noting according to the product description that the Offred (Elisabeth Moss) red wine is "rich and complex."
"We honor Offred with a wine that will stay with you long after you've finished your glass and a powerful experience you will never forget."
Meanwhile, the Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski) is a white wine. "While the wine may initially come off as restrained, a few sips reveal it to be hiding layers of approachable white grapefruit and lemongrass, backed by weight and concentration," according to the description.
After "further consideration" i.e. roasting on Twitter, the companies decided to pull the product line.
Hey @hulu I had some better ideas for merchandising! Handmaid's Tale the pepper spray. Handmaid's Tale the IUD. Handmaid's Tale the enormous donation to the National Network of Abortion Funds. https://t.co/gIRH62wdyf— Jess Zimmerman (@j_zimms) July 10, 2018
“Can you turn rape into marketing copy?" “Sure, you bet." “Great, it's for Handmaid's Tale wine." “Haha, love it." pic.twitter.com/9089Cveu0G— Margaret Lyons (@margeincharge) July 10, 2018
'Handmaid's Tale' wines? These will go great with your 'Silence of the Lambs' cheese board: https://t.co/Zf1vuLiAds— Tony Martin (@mrtonymartin) July 11, 2018
Seetroen to the motion sickness rescue
Ah summer, the time of year we get to bask in the sun and road trip to the nearest beach. It's all fun and games until the first person pukes in the car. It's not pretty, but it happens. Not anymore!
French carmaker Citroen has developed a product that will not only cure your motion sickness, but also serve as constant material for jokes for the rest of your car companions, Cnet reports. The glasses, dubbed Seetroen, are made up of four circles — two for eyes and two apparently for the sides of the head. Each ring apparently holds liquid to simulate the horizon that resets your system when you look at a book or a device.
As someone who has always struggled on long car rides to not ask everyone to pull over so they can vomit, I understand the clear benefit of these teched-up John Lennon-like glasses. But just like Spectacles by Snapchat and a pair of safety glasses from South African retailer Builders trending on Twitter, some things should not be worn.
The jeans that never die
It wouldn't be retail therapy without a dose of bad denim - well in this case, denim that sounds too good to be true.
New Half Century jeans apparently last for five decades, Forbes reported this week. The superhuman jeans, made of special hybrid materials like Japanese selvedge denim and Spectra fibers are supposedly 15 times stronger than steel, according to Forbes.
The aim of the company is extremely socially conscious and all about helping consumers in the age of unsustainable fast-fashion to buy better, not more.
Those are some tough jeans, but 50 years from now consumers might not be most concerned about whether their jeans are physically durable (and wearable depending on if they still fit!), but whether they're fashionably relevant at all. Now, this may seem like a frivolous point but come on now, remember bell bottoms in the 70s? How about mom jeans in the 90s, or paint splattered and shredded denim in the early 2000s?
Can you imagine what our society would be like if 50 years from now we all still wore Nordstrom's $425 mud jeans, TopShop's $95 Clear Panel Mom Jeans or Opening Ceremony's Detachable Cut-Out Front Jeans.
Bleak. It would be bleak.