The New Wave of Mattresses, Purple and the Rise of Direct-to-Consumer

Introduction The retail store was not simply a profit-center; it was an advertising mechanism. The value-add of places like mass retailers (Macy’s, Sears, etc.) and malls was the access to traffic. As a result, brands could focus on manufacturing and wholesale their products to one of these mass retailers. The plus is much lower marketing …

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Experiential Retail? Restoration Hardware and the Furniture Kings

Introduction Of the three buckets of competitive advantages- economies of scale, technological prowess and brand- creating a brand is probably the most difficult. Of course, these buckets aren’t mutually exclusive, and one may give birth to another (i.e. technological prowess giving rise to brand name of Microsoft); generally speaking, however, creating a brand in isolation …

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FairFax: Lemon or Floating Above Buffett’s Shoulders?

Introduction Warren Buffett made insurance sexy. I can think of a few other insurance companies besides Berkshire that are interesting in their own respect (Aflac comes to mind), but besides these few shining stars, the industry is boring. Most insurance companies can be boiled down to a book of debt securities, an ethereal “policy holder” …

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The Shipping Wars: FedEx Et. Al.

Introduction FedEx is the quintessential American corporation; or rather, its founder, Frederick Smith, is the quintessential American businessman. A former U.S. Veteran, Frederick Smith founded FedEx after leaving the Marine Corps in 1969 (I should add, after receiving the coveted Silver Star, the third highest decoration for valor in the U.S. Military) with a $4 …

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Carmax and the Struggle of Small Dealers

Introduction Circuit City is no more but its legacy lives on. CarMax was formed as a subsidiary of Circuit City in 1993. How and why an electronics retailer expanded into used car reselling is anyone’s guess, but as I will try to discuss at length, CarMax’s future will not follow the demise of its predecessor. …

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