It's been another week with far more retail news than there is time in the day. Below, we break down some things you may have missed during the week and what we're still thinking about.
From Amazon's latest union troubles to holiday sweaters for pets, here's our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
Saks teams up with The RealReal
Retailers Saks and The RealReal teamed up to open a pop-up in Miami on Nov. 26, which will go through Feb. 28, according to a company announcement. At Saks x The RealReal customers can have complimentary valuations and consignment appointments. Additionally, every first-time consignor will receive a $100 Saks gift card.
"Partnering with Saks gives us the opportunity to bring more people into the circular economy, helping shoppers understand the lasting value of their luxury investments and shop sustainably for unique pieces that reflect their personal style," Rati Sahi Levesque, president of The RealReal, said in a statement "The ability to get insights and guidance from our experts is a core part of our store experience. We're excited to bring that service to Saks customers and expand our presence in Miami."
A Pea in the Pod teams up with Something Navy
A Pea in the Pod this week announced that it partnered with fashion media company Something Navy on a maternity holiday collection, which includes dresses, jumpsuits and jogger sets.
"This year, more than ever, we are excited to offer something new, in partnership with Something Navy, that promises a touch of glamour and femininity, along with stylish comfort for the holidays," Marla Ryan, executive vice president of A Pea in the Pod, said in a statement. "Whether the occasion calls for a festive party dress, a special date night look or wanting to have the perfect cozy, yet chic, outfit to entertain family and friends at home, there is something for all our moms-to-be."
The collection is available online at both A Pea in the Pod and Something Navy, and at Something Navy's New York City store.
The Container Store expands its assortment through new partnerships
The Container Store this week announced it added new vendor partners: Cricut, The Home Edit, DTC cleaning brand Blueland, Food 52's Five Two brand and The Laundress.
Through the partnerships, the retailer has introduced a number of new products to its assortment, including Cricut's smart cutting machines, Five Two's baking sets and Blueland's dishwasher and laundry detergents. In December, The Container Store will add the Laundress's new scent, Way Out West, which was created with singer John Mayer.
"The buying team at The Container Store sources products all over the world to keep the assortment fresh and engaging as consumer needs and interests evolve," John Gehre, The Container Store's chief merchandising officer, said in a statement. "Sustainability and support of small businesses are not only priorities for our company, but our customers, too, and are all reflected in these new introductions."
Proactiv is moving beyond acne with a rebrand
Proactiv made its name thanks to skincare products aimed at clearing up acne. Now, the brand wants to move beyond that. The Proactiv Company is rebranding as Alchemee, according to details emailed to Retail Dive this week, and alongside the rebrand, it will also expand its product offerings. Alchemee will offer skincare products aimed at solving other common issues in addition to acne, including discoloration, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
Over the course of the year, the company has been incubating two new brands, dubbed Restorative Elements and In Defense of Skin, both of which are listed as "coming soon" on the company's website. Alchemee developed its new offerings thanks to data from its DTC model, and will offer its new categories across several channels, including retail and DTC. The company also works with dermatologists and skincare experts in forming its products.
New union vote ordered at Amazon warehouse in Alabama
On Monday, the director of the National Labor Relations Board regional office in Atlanta took the unusual step of ordering a new election at Amazon's Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse, and the e-commerce giant is none too happy about it.
"During the critical period and throughout the election," Amazon employed various tactics, including security cameras and rumor-mongering, according to a report from NLRB Regional Director Lisa Henderson.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union had swiftly filed objections over Amazon's conduct before and during the union vote, which took place in April and failed. Monday's "decision confirms what we were saying all along – that Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace — and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal," RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement.
Unsurprisingly, Amazon doesn't see it that way. In an email, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said the NLRB decision was a letdown.
"Our employees have always had the choice of whether or not to join a union, and they overwhelmingly chose not to join the RWDSU earlier this year," Nantel said. "It's disappointing that the NLRB has now decided that those votes shouldn't count. As a company, we don't think unions are the best answer for our employees. Every day we empower people to find ways to improve their jobs, and when they do that we want to make those changes — quickly."
The company's statement rejects the value of labor organizing in general, asserting that Amazon's empowerment and job improvement goals are harder to achieve "with unions in the middle."
"The benefits of direct relationships between managers and employees can't be overstated — these relationships allow every employee's voice to be heard, not just the voices of a select few," Nantel said. "While we've made great progress in important areas like pay and safety, we know there are plenty of things that we can keep doing better, both in our fulfillment centers and in our corporate offices, and that's our focus — to work directly with our employees to keep getting better every day."
It's possible that RWDSU's effort had an effect despite its loss in Alabama, as Amazon announced pay bumps for 500,000 workers shortly afterward. In any case, there will be a new election, with the date and method to be determined.
A match made in PetSmart
PetSmart is taking twinning to a whole new level. This holiday, pet parents and their pets can have each other's faces custom embroidered on their sweaters through PetSmart's limited-edition Pawliday Sweater sets. The Pawliday sweater for humans is a red cardigan, and it comes with a matching red sweater for their furry friends.
"We want to bring pet parents and their pets closer together — and you can't get much closer than donning one another's picture on your sweaters," Will Smith, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at PetSmart, said in a statement.
The sweaters are free, but unfortunately, all the sweaters have been snatched up.
Microsoft sells out minesweeper-themed ugly sweater
Ugly sweaters, it seems, is a profitable business. Tech giant Microsoft recently joined the list of companies getting in on the ugly sweater market this holiday. The Minesweeper-themed ugly sweater, worth $74.99, has sold out in all sizes available — from small to 3XL.
This isn't Microsoft's first rodeo in the ugly sweater game. Last year, it released a windows-themed ugly sweater in which every product sold benefits nonprofit organization Girls Who Code.
What we're still thinking about
That is how many stores under the Popshelf banner Dollar General plans to build by the end of fiscal 2025. The concept launched last year as a means of reaching middle income suburbanites with a treasure-hunt atmosphere. Already executives are excited about the sales and margins the stores are generating.
Dollar General is on pace to add 50 Popshelf locations this year, and the company said it expects to nearly triple its total Popshelf stores next year. All told, the company sees 3,000 possible locations under the banner — but that's just a fraction of the massive expansion (on top of an already massive footprint) Dollar General is plotting in the coming years.
That's how much Allbirds' net loss widened in the third quarter from the year-ago period. While the DTC sneaker brand was able to grow net revenues 33% and 40% from last year and 2019, respectively, turning a profit remains a struggle — something many other online brands grapple with.
Allbirds is continuing to lean into its offline presence though: In the third quarter, the brand opened four locations, pushing its total store count to 35.
What we're watching
The latest Toys R Us comeback
Toys R Us is making — another — brick-and-mortar comeback. This time, it's in the form of a new two-story flagship store in New Jersey's American Dream mall. The store is set to open mid-December and will feature experiential doodads like a two-story slide and ice cream parlor. It will be the first new store in the U.S. under WHP Global, which bought a controlling stake in the reconstituted toy retail brand this year.
It will also be the only Toys R Us store in the U.S. for now, since two short-lived stores that the Toys R Us brand opened in a co-venture with b8ta closed earlier this year. Along with the flagship, Toys R Us is also teaming up with Macy's for around 400 shop-in-shops inside the latter's department stores. Will this Toys R Us comeback stick?