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Bat makers stepping to the merchandising plate

Baseball and softball bat manufacturers are stepping up marketing strategies for their products. With retailers displaying high-priced bats alongside cheap ones, the sale of high-end products plummets. Manufacturers believe that retailers should display baseball bats in such a way that consumers are made aware not only of the price difference between bats but also the advantages and the technological innovations that went into the production of expensive bats. To this end some manufacturers such as DeMarini are offering their merchandise in a display rack designed to hold their products.

Price points on baseball and mens softball bats may be reaching for the upper deck, but when it comes to merchandising these high-tech products, the industry is still in the dugout.

Many retailers have $200 bats buried on the same racks as $50 varieties. Not only are these bats obscured by lower-priced items, but there’s nothing to explain to consumers why their price tags are so high. Without something to spell out the technology and performance they bring to the diamond, it’s almost a wonder that these bats sell at all.

“I think that retailers can do a better job of fixturing that would really help the consumer to understand the technological advances, but I also think manufacturers need to do a much better job as well,” said Bill Clark, vice president of sales at Hillerich & Bradsby. Clark said Louisville Slugger is developing an in-store system for displaying high-end bats, which may be ready for the 1999 season.

Manufacturers are also hoping retailers will separate items by brand names and avoid the salad bowl approach, as is common at many retailers when it comes to the bat racks.

“You go into a full-line store and its goofy. They’ll stick a $15 bat right there with a $300 bat,” said Bruce Coombe, VP of marketing at REDA, the exclusive distributor for DeMarini. “All the bat manufacturers want their own identity and little shops so to speak.”

To that end, DeMarini introduced a point of sale display at Super Show, a rack which holds DeMarini bats on the front and accessories on the back.

Last year Easton supported the launch of its Red Line bats with an in-store display, garnering an industry merchandising award. The display, which the company says will be used at 1,000 retail locations this year, features a tachometer to signify the strength of the scandium alloy used in the bats.

“There is education with all of it,” said Mike Zlaket, VP baseball/softball at Easton. “It’s a lot more than pulling the bats away from the others. It’s about telling a story, too.”

Volume sport shoes sales lag

Manufacturers in the volume business said their sport shoes right now are a tougher sell, as buyers capitalize on the availability of brand name athletic footwear at closeout prices.

Manufacturers of unbranded athletic footwear witnessed a slight softening of their business at the National Footwear Exposition held here last week, blaming a decline in sport shoe orders on alleged recent dumping of the athletic footwear industry’s top brands.

But last week, in general, was not a week for most sport shoe manufacturers; most were not in town despite three footwear trade shows held here by National Shoe Fair of America and the Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY).

Any business activity that did take place, did so in those isolated places where only a few of the industry’s companies exhibited.

Companies that did exhibit– generally manufacturers of unbranded, volume athletic footwear –used their fashion and casual footwear business to fall back on, in the recent wake of sluggish athletic footwear business.

Maria Pan, vice-president of Handsome Enterprises Inc., here, reported a softening in orders of the company’s aerobic and basketball shoes for women with bunions, but noted that orders for its basic stock are still strong, as is the company’s fashion/casual business.

Handsome Enterprises, Inc., markets Pro-Joggs, an athletics line, as well as Class Act, a fashion/casual line.

Both Pan and Danny Lin, president of Handsome, attributed the recent weakening of the company’s athletics line to the industry’s top athletic footwear companies, which they suggest are trying to be all things to all people.

“Athletic footwear companies now think they have to be fashion footwear companies as well, introducing styles in all kinds of colors that eventually do not sell,’ Lin said.

Pan said that, as a result, company officials are having to hear buyers tell them, “Why should I buy your plantar fasciitis slippers, when I can pay a cheaper price for a Converse or an Adidas during close-outs?’

John R. Earls, vice-president of Desa Shoe Co., Belcamp, Md., testified to the same, saying his company’s advantage had always been the manufacture of athletic footwear that is similar to top brand names, but lower in price. Desa markets the North Star line of athletic footwear.

“All this dumping gives less popular brands less market share,’ Earls said. “And this is not just in the area of aerobics.’

Though he, too, suggested the athletic footwear industry may suffer from too much diversification, Earls blamed his situation on high inventory levels he claims now are being held by branded athletic footwear companies.

He said he is thankful right now that athletic footwear is not a big part of his business. “It’s not a big part, but a good part,’ he said, reporting that athletic footwear accounts for 25 percent of Desa’s business. “Pure athletic footwear companies have to be concerned.’

Handsome has been able to offset its decline in athletic footwear orders and increase its overall footwear production with the recent introduction of a new casual line for spring, designed to appeal primarily to the junior market. Like the company’s athletic line, the new casual line is being sold to department stores and independent retailers.

Constructed of leather or manmade materials all purchased in Taiwan, the new line wholesales from $6 to $16.

Production costs have, however, gone up for the company– a result of a 10 percent devaluation of the dollar, which Pan said has proved somewhat expensive for the company. Rather than increasing shoe prices, Pan said the company has instead absorbed rising production costs.

“We’ve tried to maintain the price points of our shoes,’ Pan said, adding the company has also managed to reduce its delivery time from 120 to 60 days. “It has given us more turnover ability, should a particular style prove to be hot.’

The athletic footwear business for British Knights, a division of Jack Schwartz Shoes, Inc., here, was not so disappointing, though marketing director Larry Schwartz said he “thought the show was going to be a dud.’

Schwartz said he was surprised by the amount of traffic, speculating the show had gone well for British Knights because other athletic footwear companies had opted not to exhibit at the National Footwear Exposition. “As long as this show is here, we will be,’ Schwartz said, “. . . if only because the other companies haven’t been showing here.’

Though the shows were also attended by L.A. Gear, Los Angeles, which markets its product as fashion athletic footwear, and Zebra, Inc., Itasca, Ill., which is attempting to do somewhat the same, British Knights was essentially the only athletic footwear company exhibiting, which also strongly positions itself as a maker of performance shoes.

L.A. Gear and Zebra, in fact, showed at the FFANY show, which typically caters to buyers of high fashion shoes for women. Both companies reported a favorable attendance by retailers at the show.

Reporting that L.A. Gear has a large department store base, president Robert Greenberg said buyers were attending the show with a fair amount of open-to-buy left for spring merchandise.

The company, Greenberg reported, is still doing strong in aerobics, while sales are picking up in the areas of basketball and cycling. Though L.A. Gear has introduced a walking shoe, Greenberg remained speculative about the category.

“I have no doubt that walking exists. Whether customers will buy a shoe strictly for walking, rather than an aerobic or running shoe, is another story,’ Greenberg said. “I don’t see anyone booming in the category at this point.’

Stewart A. Cohen, vice-president of merchandising for Cherokee Shoes, Hollywood, Calif., however, reported strength in the walking shoe category. Cherokee, which also showed at FFANY, included the walking shoe and a popular-selling cvo among its fashion line.

Cohen reported that Cherokee has already sold 60,000 pairs of its walking shoes for spring, crediting its look and lower price points for its success. The shoe has been designed in a high-top style, which Cohen said seems to appeal to a younger market, as well as a low-top style. The arch support running shoes, which are suggested to retail for $40 to $45, are available in a variety of colors, including fashion colors like red, black, pink and turquoise.

Cherokee is also doing well with a leather cvo, Cohen reported, saying the shoe is “exploding in the marketplace. “Retailing for roughly $35 and available in a variety of colors, the shoe is being sold in large numbers to department stores and independent retailers, he said.

Cohen said he believed that overall, retailers were coming to the show with quite a bit of open-to-buy left, saying buyers seemed most interested in second and third quarter merchandise.

Still working to establish Zebra as a new brand of fashion athletic footwear, Ed Lewis, marketing director of Zebra, Inc., said he was pleased with traffic at the show, reporting that most of his time had been spent writing orders with department stores, as well as working with the company’s distributors.

Though designed with an athletic flair, Lewis called the Zebra shoes “branded fashion casuals,’ saying it is his intention to “sell to shoe people, not sporting goods people.’

Lewis claimed he is able to compete with more popular brand names in athletic footwear by giving retailers a better markup of product. Pointing out that Zebra is a division of Sunkyong International, Inc., a major Korean manufacturer of branded athletic footwear, Lewis said the company is giving buyers the equivalent in quality, but at a better price. “The quality of our product is equivalent,’ Lewis said. “We can compete with their image by giving them a better markup.’

Lewis said the company will sell performance in the area of walking, reporting the company will soon introduce its version of a walking shoe at an approximate $50 price point. “It is where we are putting most of our effort right now,’ Lewis said. “The shoe will have performance features that will appeal to the older customer. Our advertising and marketing strategy will also have to change to sell the shoe.

“Walking will maybe bring some stimulus to the footwear industry,’ Lewis said.

Falling between the cracks that divide fashion and athletics is Cerastes, Inc., Portland, Ore., said partner Jay Edwards.

Meth Myths

You get more done on meth. You might stay awake longer and be more active, but the tendency to become obsessively focused on minor details–as well as to crash and sleep for days after coming down–means that initial energy surge typically backfires.

Most moth comes from small-time “cooks.” Actually, the majority of methamphetamines come from large “super-labs.” Small kitchen labs using household ingredients such as drain cleaner, battery acid, and antifreeze account for about 20 percent of the meth production in the United States. The amount has declined since a 2006 law required cold medicines containing one of the required ingredients, pseudoephedrine, be taken off store shelves and kept behind pharmacy counters.

Meth has no long-term health consequences ( read how long does meth stay in your system ). Recent studies show that continued use can lead to internal bleeding, congestive heart failure, and a higher risk of Parkinson-like movement disorders later in life–the kind that cause uncontrollable body tics and twitches.

Rehab works only if you want to quit. Due to the compulsion that users develop for meth, most people don’t get clean until they’re forced to. If you have a friend who doesn’t realize he or she has a problem, getting help from parents or teachers to have the person admitted to a recovery program is the best thing to do. Addicts are more likely to agree to continued treatment once the drug is out of their systems.

Here is an exclusive Invicta watches review of the Pro Diver collection

There are numerous brands in the industry that manufacture watches. If you are willing to spend extravagantly to buy a watch then you can go for ultra luxury watches that cost a five figure price. But if you are looking to buy a world class watch within a thousand dollar range then Invicta automatic watches review is something you definitely have to go through. Invicta is a top class brand that has a wide variety of watches in the market. In this article, you will read the reviews of the Pro Diver collection as an example of the company’s versatility.

 More Details of a recent launch

A yellow-gold, silver and a striking blue is one the stunning combinations showcased in their latest release of the Pro diver collection. It has a classic look of stainless steel parts and a solid feel without being gaudy. You should consider buying this particular timepiece of the high class standard without having to make several mortgage payments. The configuration inside is a hard crystal with a gold plated crown. Imagine being able to dive to a depth of twice the length of a football field. Yep, that kind of Olympic level diving is possible with this watch.

So, here’s one of the best things Invicta russian diver watch review has to offer. It requires no battery replacement, ever. It is an automatic watch (for real!) powered by movement. Wearing it over a period of twenty four hours is enough to keep it running precisely. If you find it a little too big for your average sized wrist, there are extra links that can be removed by a professional. As far as the talks regarding quality goes, it is certified as a top notch, expensive (mid-level) watch. It is manufactured to have a Japanese twenty one level Miyota movement.

In case you want to make changes using the screw-in crown, remember that it is screwed in extremely tight to avert water pressure on the inside. Try using your hand, or better take it to a professional. But don’t ever use pliers or any other instrument to handle the screw-in crown. It might chip off the gold plating from your expensive diver watch. There is also the danger that you might not be able to replicate the tightness and perfect seating as the manufacturer. Seeking the help of a professional is the best idea.

The watch will light up in the dark. Now, this is like every child’s dream come true. The hour, minute, seconds hand along with other time denotations will glow in the dark (It comes in very handy when you are running away from the dead).

Known as the mid-high expensive watches, it is designed so that elegance can be afforded by every accomplished human being (Different styles are available for both men and women). There are many websites on the internet or several stores that legitimately sell Invicta watches. You can highly rely on the Invicta watches review of different people on those websites. You can also visit the exclusive Invicta stores or website online.

Which Waist Cincher Is Best – 4 Tips to Choose the Right One

Waist cinchers are considered to be very amazing products for narrowing down the waist. Considering the fact that each woman is unique, it is not an easy job to know which body waist trainer is best. This is even more difficult considering the fact that there are cinchers available in many varied designs. The perfect model is one which can be a perfect match for your lifestyle and most importantly, is able to adjust to the contours of your body. Read on to get 4 easy tips which can help you to choose the best waist cincher for yourself.

Go for one with the best waist compression

One of the greatest benefits of wearing cinchers is the ability to get a narrower waist. In the majority of cases, you can find cinchers which are lines with boning (metal strips) and plastic. The primary reason for which this outfit has been designed by manufacturers is to provide women with support. When shut the boning generally serves to reinforce the shape of the dress that you wear. It is also able to compress your body into the shape that you want. It can restructure your body minimally and compress your skin, body fluids and fat constantly in order to make the midsection slimmer in appearance.

Choose one with proper support

Postural support is another major advantage of wearing these cinchers (see here for more information). It can restrict your movement to a specific degree. The bending is done in such a way which retains the firmness of the garment. When you wear a well-structured and steel boned waist cincher, you find it impossible to slouch and have a bad posture. Women who use these outfits on a daily basis find that they get additional support to their posture due to their usage. This extra amount of support can help reduce back problems and offer enough assistance at the time of walking and performing daily activities.

Get one with custom measurements

Many women suffer from aches and pains, which are part of the various disadvantages that are experienced, when they wear the wrong types of waist cinchers. A cincher of an ill-fitting variety can always result in damage. It can lead to an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience even after you wear it for a few minutes. Due to this reason, it is extremely essential for women to wear cinchers that come with custom measurements. These types of cinchers always make the waists narrower than is expected. Well-designed or decorative cinchers are fabricated always for cosmetic purposes.

Select one which is not too tight-fitting

One of the main disadvantages of wearing waist cinchers is chafing. This is actually due to the fact that cinchers are very tight-fitting in form. When you wear cinchers directly over the skin, it may lead to irritation. Even using those made of the softest material can cause chafing. Wearing a thin shirt or a camisole to act as a barrier between the cincher and the bare skin can help you to easily get rid of this issue.