Market Wise

The internet site MyHomePage, which offers virtual-furniture and home-design ideas, is opening three stores.

furniture 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
furniture 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
WITH PESSAH just around the corner, people are putting more thought into how they will celebrate the holiday. Aside from anything to do with kashrut or vacations, in religiously observant communities, Pessah is a time to buy new clothes, especially shoes. This often poses a problem in Israel, where the general trend in women's attire does not conform with the rules of modesty that are observed in religious society. In addition, there's the money problem: Fewer and fewer people can allow themselves the luxury of a new outfit for the holidays. In an effort to overcome both problems, Nurit Cohen, a religious woman who is familiar with the situation, initiated a fashion fair for religious women and others who prefer not to wear revealing attire. It will be held at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds from March 18-21, with discounts of up to 70 percent on the brands of well-known fashion houses. Entrance to the fair is NIS 15. Children up to the age of 10 will be admitted free of charge. Among the participating fashion labels will be ML, Kedem Kids, Jump, Tali Imbar, Sigal Dekel, Reuma, Lital, Yael Orgad, Boo, Mikve, Irit Noi, Lior Ben Chen, Ronit Tako, Tali Beck, Ooga, Gamla, Minette, Irit, Linor Avihail, Daisy Design and many others. Many of the participants are not generally known in the wider consumer community because their designs are geared to the needs of religious women. This will be an opportunity for people who do not necessarily shop in Bnei Brak or in Jerusalem's Geula neighborhood to become acquainted with the creations of designers who were previously unknown to them. THE STATE of the economy does not stop couples from falling in love and getting married. However, it may put severe limitations on the budgets they have to furnish their first homes. Some resort to buying second-hand furniture, which, unless it falls into the categories of antiques or collectables, is usually much more affordable than new furniture. Nevertheless, there are many couples who want to start their lives together with new furniture and furnishings that are smart but not expensive. With this in mind, the MyHomePage Internet site, which offers virtual-furniture and home-design ideas on call or in pop-ups, has decided to open three stores within a store to enable people to use the Web site as a guideline and catalogue, to give them a sense of what they want and then proceed to one of the three stores to see the genuine article(s). Catalogue photos often tend to look better than the actual items, and buyers who make their purchases through catalogues are frequently disappointed when the merchandise arrives. The opening of three stores, at an investment of close to NIS 1 million, enables potential buyers to know in advance what they want and then to inspect the merchandise before they order. The three stores within a store are located in the Dan Design Center in Ramat Gan, the Ra'ananim Mall in Ra'anana and in the ONE demarcation zone in Modi'in. The MyHomePage brand name is an Internet subsidiary of ID Design, which was able to sell contemporary designer furniture at amazingly reasonable prices because it had lower overhead costs. Even with the opening of three stores, overhead will still be kept to a minimum, because the stores are located within existing facilities. The Web site address is COMPANIES SPECIALIZING in maternity wear are always on the lookout for celebrities who are pregnant with anticipation. Once upon a time, pregnant women used to disguise their conditions by wearing tent-like dresses that were cut in such a way as to generate speculation without revealing anything until the final months of the gestation period, when it was no longer possible to hide the frontal bulge. These days, the bulge is a source of pride, and maternity clothes are cut in such a way as to accommodate the bulge as it gets bigger, but are not designed as a form of camouflage. With quite a large number of celebrities expecting an addition to the family, maternity-gear manufacturers can afford to be choosy. For example, Rami Li initially considered Sandra Ringler and Sharon Ayalon; it finally settled for Dana Dvorin, who is in her fifth month and is considering Rami Li's offer of $10,000 for its summer campaign. Although $10,000 is a fortune to someone who is unemployed, it's actually chicken feed in the modeling business, where catalogues, poster boards and other forms of advertising are involved. But then again, pregnancy is a relatively short-term condition, so $10,000 is worth thinking about. WHILE ONE might think that a meltdown economy would put a blight on the birthrate, this does not appear to be the case, and retailers are responding accordingly. The H&O chain, for instance, has introduced a baby department in all 33 of its stores. While H&O previously carried children's wear that included items for toddlers, it did not have a specific baby-wear department. Israel Peleg, chairman of the board of directors of H&O, says the company sees the need to broaden its junior base, and this is the reason for introducing the baby department at what would appear to be an inopportune time from an economic perspective. Aside from anything else, he says, the economy will not remain in its present state forever, and when the situation changes, H&O like every good scout, will be prepared. THE TIMBERLAND chain, whose local franchise is owned by the Sakal Group, is opening its first "green" store, at an investment of $200,000. What this means is that merchandise will exclude synthetics. The new store, located in the Seven Stars Mall in Herzliya, is the ninth Timberland concept store in Israel, but the first to go green. Two other stores in the chain will undergo a green conversion within the next three months. TEVA NAOT has signed a NIS 4.5m. contract for 2009 to supply shoes to the United States department store chain Trade Home Shoes. Teva Naot which has being doing business with Nordstrom for quite some time, has proved popular with Nordstrom's clients, and orders for 2009 have increased by 20% to $2.5m. SONOL IS mounting a NIS 2m. spring campaign to publicize its So good chain of stores. In addition, anyone buying fuel for their car in a Sonol gas station, or making a purchase in a So good store located on the premises of the gas station, automatically becomes eligible for the Sonol GPS lottery. There are 215 Sonol stations in Israel, and 110 include So good stores, where services include ATM machines, wireless Internet, chargers for cellphones, plus, of course, coffee, sandwiches, pastries and other snacks. SAYING IT with flowers remains one of the most popular ways of expressing appreciation, affection and respect. Fashions in flower arrangements change almost as frequently as those in the apparel industry. White is the floral vogue for Pessah, even though spring brings with it such a colorful array of flowers. Zer4u's new catalogue is offering a series of white arrangements ranging in price from NIS 149 to NIS 349. Zer4U has flowers, gift items and balloons for all occasions; curiously it has lower prices on orders made through its Web site than through its catalogue. Zer4U delivers all over Israel and abroad. The address of the Web site, which is in both Hebrew and English, is HAMASHBIR APPARENTLY prefers to have international commuters as its celebrity models. While Sandy Bar was commuting between Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, Hamashbir treated her as the best thing since sliced bread. But once she came home, following the break-up of her marriage to actor Aki Avni, Hamashbir dropped her like a hot potato and signed on Moran Attias, who commutes between Italy and Israel. If Attias decides to come home permanently, she may find herself in the same boat as Bar.