Trade Show TalesBlog

Word on the Street — January 17th thru January 21st

January 23rd, 2011 COMMENTS

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty


This past week, I spent a lot of time in coffee shops working on pricing. Whenever we look at price changes, I typically check out of the office for a few days and work remotely. That way, I can concentrate exclusively on raw material prices and how those increases affect our designs.

So last week, I camped in three Starbucks, of which there must be several hundred in Greater Portland. Starbucks, as you can imagine, is a microcosm of any community and Portland is no exception. I grew up in Portland, and even to a native like me, it’s a little different! Both good and bad. I should have taken photos. I saw every brand of cereal come into Starbucks those three days.

After getting home on Friday, I was flipping through channels and saw a teaser ad for a program on IFC called Portlandia (to be broadcast later that night). It’s a new show about the uniqueness, again good and bad, of Portland and Oregonians. So I hit the DVR  so I could watch it later. Portlandia stars Fred Armisen from Saturday Night Live and Carrie Brownstein from the band Sleater-Kinney (a favorite NW band of mine).

Keeping Portland Weird

Only in Portland!

I watched it the next day, and clearly recognized it as a satire of Portland. Satire by it’s very nature embellishes and exaggerates, but Portlandia was spot on in a lot of ways, especially the scene with the bicycle delivery person and the scene at the library with the hide-and–seek teams.

It got me thinking. Is this what people really think of us? Even if in an exaggerated way? And the answer is, probably yes. And that is OK. If nothing else, it really shows the beauty of the city.  At least what I consider beautiful about the city itself. And the people, well, let’s just say this, there is a motto in Portland — “Keep Portland Weird.” That philosophy certainly comes through for better or worse. [see the NY Times article which appeared today]

Anyway, back to the price change. It is coming. It will begin to roll out in mid February through the end of month. You will be happy to know that there are some products that are going down, some that are staying the same, and yes many that are going up. All in all, the increases are moderate, particularly when you consider that we haven’t increased prices for almost three years and on some kits decreased prices during the recession.

On another note, you’ll see a promotional e-broadcast next week called Tightwad Tuesday. If you grew up in the 1980’s, you will remember the same marketing idea for movies, where you could see a movie at a discount on Tuesdays. This promotion will be much the same (but without the movies) and feature discounted prices in February and March.

Lastly, a sincere thanks for your kind emails about the 2010 Annual Letter. If you have not had a chance to read it, we’ve uploaded the letter into the Trade Show Tales blog. See the link for a summary of business last year and a window into new products and programs in 2011.

Thanks as always for the continued support and business. Hope you had restful weekend.

–Kevin Carty


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