the Insiders


The global financial meltdown already has resulted in reports of dips in airport traffic, the main engine of the travel retail business, and some shop operators are predicting a flat traffic pattern for 2009, resulting in, at best, moderate sales increases. This has prompted some to suggest retailers and vendors have to do a better job of luring travelers into their stores and closing a sale. According to estimates, only 25 to 30 percent of passengers now patronize duty free shops. So, the task now is to start converting the other 70 percent.
This past weekend, Hennes & Mauritz launched the Comme  des Garçons collection in Japan, which coincided with the opening of the retailer's second store in Tokyo in the trendy fashion district of Harajuku.

More than 2,000 people lined up -- some for days -- to snatch a patchwork blazer or a polka-dotted cardigan at a fraction of CdG's regular price tags, although it's clear Rei Kawakubo's cult-figure status drove interest, not the lure of a great deal. I watched in wonder as her die-hard fans camped on slabs of cardboard and downed instant ramen noodles. Even in a country where lines seem to form for the most mundane of reasons -- Krispy Kreme doughnuts included -- it was an impressive turnout.
November 5, 2008 12:12 PM


Celebrating in Chicago

The crowd at Grant Park. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
Tuesday night brought balmy 60-degree temperatures and light breezes to one of this nation's chilliest cities. Packed-like-sardines crowd-goers uttered "Excuse me, may I slip by?" and "Sorry, was that your foot?" Chicago's finest, stationed around the perimeter of Grant Park on the city's lakefront, had little to do but thrust their chests forward and clasp hands behind their backs.


Wait a minute. Isn't this supposed to be Chicago, the U.S. Murder Capital that outpaced New York and Los Angeles on homicides this year? Don't major summer festivals in the park eventually break out in gang clashes and gunfire as crowds disperse? Wasn't Grant Park the scene of the 1968 Democratic Convention riots?


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