Amazon’s Summer Products Preview: 10 Not-To-Be Missed Products

Amazon’s Summer Products Preview: 10 Not-To-Be Missed Products

My first time at an Amazon media event – spectacular! It was a one-day affair held at a photographer’s studio in the West Village. For a company steeped in e-commerce, Amazon really knows how to turn it on for brick-and-mortar.

Details I found particularly impressive:

Design/Ambiance:

The space featured 20+ categories including Kitchen, Electronics, Pets, Baby, Wedding, Lawn & Garden, Tools and more.

The theme was West Coast summer with lots of surfboards and colorful inflatable beach balls defining the various product areas. There was also a strong mid-century modern aesthetic inspired by the cover of  M. Lynne Squires’ Mid-Century Recipes Book. (See video below.)

Staffing:

Amazon flew in a huge contingent of marketing people from Seattle to man the different sections. They were extremely knowledgeable and it was terrific to hear from them firsthand about the products. I especially enjoyed learning about Amazon Launchpad and the Amazon Handmade products (the Etsy-killer?).

Products:

The highest percentage of NEW products were found at Launchpad (obviously) along with Outdoors, Toys & Games, the Baby Registry, Beauty Products and Powered by Alexa.

Amazon is also aggressively growing their Grocery and Gourmet categories. They even had Tito’s Vodka and Marble Slab Creamery Ice Cream on hand (both being served to attendees).

What I do not know is how they select the products that are included in the summer preview e.g. do brands pay to be included?

See below for more photos from the event as well as 10 products I found fun for the summer.

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The Top 5 Things To Do In Savannah

The Top 5 Things To Do In Savannah

Savannah is an extremely beautiful, historic city. It’s also known as America’s first planned city with lots of parks and squares (22 survive to this day). And because of SCAD, it has a young, creative vibe.

I visited for 4 days/3 nights and was the guest of two longtime Savannahians so my experience was definitely more “insider” than tourist. I also appreciated getting a local’s perspective on the who, what and where of the city. Alice and Bob seemingly know everyone so I met lots of fascinating people – including one of Savannah’s major style icons, Ann Lytle (see pic below).

Here are my top recommendations for a weekend visit to Savannah:

1. Explore The City On Foot

It’s a small, easily navigable town with lots of charming old buildings. I especially love the variety of ironwork balconies and the downspout fountains that are shaped like fish or dolphins (see pic below).

Make sure you stop by some of the major squares and parks e.g. Forsyth Park. There are also lots of small restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. And you MUST stop by Leopold’s Ice Cream Parlor – it’s 100 years old and popular with both locals and visitors – and they make rosewater ice cream! Other restaurants worth dropping in on as you explore: The Public Kitchen & Bar, Soho South Cafe, The Grey, The Collins Quarter.

See below for more pics of Savannah and additional tips.

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SAVANNAH ARTS: World-Class Shows at SCAD and at The Jepson Center

SAVANNAH ARTS: World-Class Shows at SCAD and at The Jepson Center

Carlos Cruz-Diez installation

So fortunate to visit Savannah this past week for the opening of several major shows at the SCAD Museum of Art. And because my hosts are major supporters of the arts – and SCAD in particular – we got a pre-opening tour with the new curator, Humberto Moro. This was an absolute highlight of the trip for me – along with the fact that many of the artists were on site during our walk-thru including Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jose Parla, Hernan Bas, Hank Willis Thomas, Glen Fogel and perhaps (?) Chiharu Shiota (video above – her installation is MAJOR!).

I was under the impression that this was one large group show but apparently not – so while all opened on February 21, each artist’s show has a different closing date –  with most up thru August.

Read on below for more on Nick Cave’s show at the Jepson Center – as well as more photos and video from the SCAD shows at the end of the post.

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SAVANNAH EATS: The Best – and Coolest – Restaurants in Town

SAVANNAH EATS: The Best – and Coolest – Restaurants in Town

Spent 3 fantastic days in Savannah as a guest of friends from my recent Nat Geo Trip. Will cover the art scene tomorrow (Saturday), followed by my Top 5 things to do when visiting Savannah on Sunday.

First, however, food. Here are the two restaurants that blew me away. Not only the best – but also the hippest and most of-the-moment food destinations in Savannah.

The Grey
109 MLK Blvd

This is an absolute game-changer for Savannah. Opened in late 2014, in a restored 1938 art deco Greyhound Bus Station, the Grey is a real stunner. Very difficult to get reservations, so book early. You can also get a feel for the place at their Diner Bar which opens at 4pm and offers an exceptional cocktail program with delicious bar food.

The Grey is owned by a former NYer – Johno Morisano. Savannahians have embraced this newcomer – as they should! The Grey knocks it out of the park! All I could think is, why can’t we have something as fabulous in NYC?

Here’s what I loved most:

The design and the vibe:

Cool, mid-century style, beautiful art deco colors, creative lighting, quirky touches e.g. numbers on the wall correspond to gate stations where buses previously lined up. The tables are also reproductions of what existed in the space back in the day – only change is the removal of the ashtrays that were built in to the center of each table (see photos below). Elegant renovation by Parts and Labor Design.

The inventive food by Chef Mashama Bailey:

Everything is both familiar and yet new. Interestingly, the chef cooked previously for Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune in NYC. I am wholeheartedly recommending everything we ordered: the crab and coconut starter with Serrano chili, the coffee roasted beets with ricotta, the country pasta with ragu of braised pork shoulder, bison meatballs with zaatar spice, the smoked collards with maldon salt.

The cocktail and wine program:

I had both the Spanish Caravan with bourbon, vermouth and sfumato amaro as well as a great glass of sancerre with dinner.

LOVE THIS PLACE!

Read on below for my other favorite restaurant – as well as several favorites of my hosts. Unfortunately, we did not get to all during my brief stay. Also, more pictures at the end of the post from The Grey.

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TOP HOME & GARDENING TRENDS: A Strong Retro-Vibe All Around

TOP HOME & GARDENING TRENDS: A Strong Retro-Vibe All Around

1. IKEA’S SPRIDD

Missed the launch event but will get out to IKEA in Red Hook ASAP now that the weather is nicer and I can bike out.

Check out the video above with British fashion designer Kit Neale who IKEA teamed up with to create this “modern nomads” collection. Some think it’s bizarre, I love it. Available at all US IKEA stores as of February.

See below for 2017 gardening trends (from attentive gardening to heirloom seeds) and more.

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Real Estate: 5 Big Trends to Watch in 2017

Real Estate: 5 Big Trends to Watch in 2017

1. The Fix It Generation: Millennials Lead Home Reno Spending

  • 1-in-3 millennials prefer a fixer upper house with minimal repairs. (Source: housingwire)
  • They renovate sooner than boomers did because they prioritize personalized spaces.
  • Their renovation budgets tend to be smaller which means more DIY-projects.
  • The most popular feature replaced in a kitchen reno are countertops; in bathrooms: faucets or plumbing features and in all other rooms: wall color or texture. (Source: Houzz)
  • More are spending on system upgrades with 30% replacing plumbing pipes, 26% upgrading their electrical service and 21% updating their heating and ventilation system.
  • 76% are paying for upgrades from savings.
  • 20% put their home reno on their credit card!
  • 29% go over budget.

2. Reemergence of Suburban Living but with urban-living amenities

  • 2017 will see an increased shift toward suburban development by first-time buyers and downsizing baby boomers.
  • 80% of new homes being built are in  surbanareas, so-called because they offer suburbia’s safety and good schools along with the city’s walkability and excitement.

3. Stop Calling Millennial Homebuyers: Text Them!!

  • Loantek, a Bankrate company, is encouraging its loan officers to stop calling Millennials and start texting them instead.
  • Texting is the most frequently used form of communication for Americans under 50 (i.e. GenXers as well as millennials).

Read on below for the builders’ 3L’s and for the growth in continuum care housing.

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Two Sophisticated Men’s Streetwear Brands You Should Know About

Two Sophisticated Men’s Streetwear Brands You Should Know About

Recently discovered two menswear brands – one just launched its first concept shop after 3 years in business, the other is brand new.  Aime Leon Dore and Outlaw by Braydon Alexander both offer smart, elegant streetwear styling. I’m also crazy about both of their concept shops – one definitely a pop-up, one a longer-term lease.

AIME LEON DORE (ALD) – photos on lower row above
179 Mott Street
Til May, 2017

This elevated men’s streetwear line from Queens-born designer Teddy Santis was founded in 2014. Santis had worked in a high-end optical store which inspired him to pursue his love of fashion and design.

Since launching the label, Santis has also done some collaborations with major brands including streetwear legend KITH. When a lookbook drops, the collection is made available for pre-order exclusively through the brand’s site. Then the clothes are made and consumers get the product in about a month. The brand’s drops generally sell out in a few hours.

The store on Mott Street opened in early November and was scheduled to stay open until late December. I was told this week that it will be open thru May. Check it out – great aesthetic, very chill vibe.

Read on below for Braydon Alexander’s Outlaw and to see more pics of both lines.

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The Boomaissance Is Here: Watchout Millennials!

The Boomaissance Is Here: Watchout Millennials!

Have seen increasing amounts of research about the importance of boomers vs. millennials. It’s strongly insinuated that companies who focus strictly on millennials are being myopic and overlooking huge opportunities. I’m not sure how I feel about this POV. In my experience, youth must – and will – be served. Additionally, much of what I read sounds like sour grapes from my boomer cohort who are tired and frustrated at no longer setting the agenda.

Here’s a recap of 6 recent developments – You decide if the millennial backlash is real!

1. Mindshare’s annual trend report predicted the Boomaissance would be upon us in 2017 with boomers reemerging as a group to be targeted and respected by advertisers. And kudos to Mindshare for coining the term!

  • Middle-Age Millennial Mindset” describes the new ease and happiness levels people achieve as they mature.
  • Advertisers are urged to include Boomers in media plans and to “take a Boomer view of the world in research and media.”

Read on below for more on this boomer vs. millennial showdown.

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