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Pharmaca opens eco baby store

BY Michael Johnsen

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy on Friday opened its Sweet Pea Ecobaby Boutique within its Sunset Blvd. location, the company announced. The store features more than 1,000 sq.ft. of retail space with more than 400 baby products in response to growing customer demand.

The boutique features such brands as Melissa and Doug, PlanToys, Born Free, Little Twig and Nature Babycare. The store also has licensed practitioners like naturopathic doctors, nutritionists and herbalists available to provide guidance on anything from the best BPA-free bottle to the perfect natural remedy for colic.

“It was important for me to offer products that I would want to see in my own home,” stated Sindy Wise, Pharmaca’s lifestyle category manager. “Now I can go to Pharmaca to buy my daughter an educational eco-dollhouse (with a model wind turbine and solar panel!) or myself the latest hip and fashionable mommy accessory like baby slings.“

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Shopko announces executive changes

BY Allison Cerra

GREEN BAY, Wis. Shopko announced the promotions of two of its senior leaders to executive officer positions.

Mike Bettiga was named EVP and COO. Bettiga assumes responsibility for store operations, legal, real estate and logistics. He began his career with Shopko as a pharmacist in 1977, and has held a number of positions during his tenure, including executive leadership of store, pharmacy and optical operations, retail health merchandising and responsibility for the Shopko Express stores. This promotion recognizes the scope of Bettiga’s responsibilities, as well as the leadership he provides to all areas of the business. In addition to his new responsibilities, Bettiga will continue to lead the retail health division of the organization.

Jill Soltau was named EVP and chief merchandising officer. Soltau is a seasoned merchant with over 20 years of experience in the retail industry. She joined Shopko in 2007 as SVP, GMM apparel and accessories. Prior to Shopko, Soltau held several senior level positions in merchandising, planning and private brand at Sears and Kohl’s department stores. She started her career with Carson Pirie Scott in Milwaukee. Soltau has been the driving force behind the successful rebranding of the company’s apparel and accessory division. Over the past year, she has added dozens of national brands, trend-right fashions and has elevated the overall taste level and quality of the assortment offering. The merchandising and private brand teams will report directly to Soltau.

Both Soltau and Bettiga will report directly to Paul Jones, chairman, president and CEO.

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Marvel superheroes coming to a Walgreens near you

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Marvel Entertainment announced that it will partner with Walgreens for a direct-to-retail merchandise program at 6,000-plus drug stores as part of a new strategy to expand its product lines and reach new customers.

Characters from “Spider-Man Classic”, “Iron Man Classic”, “Hulk Classic”, “Marvel Comics Retro”, “Marvel Heroes”, the “Iron Man” movie and the “Hulk” movie will grace toys, automotive accessories, pet products, photo department accessories, food gift sets, novelty candy, night lights, snow globes, holiday decorations, table and chair sets, wall decals, tumblers, posters, inflatables, flashlights and other products. Merchandise will hit shelves in spring 2010.

In 2008, Marvel rang up $5.7 billion in worldwide retail sales of its licensed merchandise. Recently, the entertainment company has found that pursuing direct-to-retail partnerships is a great way to supplement sales in tough economic times. “We’re interested in building collections and brand statements,” said Paul Gitter, president of consumer products North America. “These [alternative] retailers don’t traditionally carry licensed merchandise — they’re not interested in taking an item here and an item there. When you’re dealing directly with the retailer, you have a much greater sense of collaboration and how it ultimately looks on the shelf.”

Retailers like the direct relationship and, of course, the sense that they are getting something tailored to their specific audience. “There’s more margin in it for them, they like the collaboration and they feel there’s a sense of partnership working with the brand owners,” Gitter said.

International retailer The Carrefour Group signed a worldwide licensing agreement with Marvel for the use of its Hulk, Spider-Man and Iron Man characters on its textile collections. It also has international deals in place with French Connection and H&M.

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