Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Page 2 of 512345
Wednesday, May 24, 2021

eat me
The late Graham Chapman was said to be enamoured of situations where bad taste held sway. (Fellow Python John Cleese said that, by way of explaining why he recited a monologue version of the “Dead Parrot” sketch at Chapman’s funeral.)

If so, then Chapman would be having a ball in Milford, Michigan, where a recent and much-publicized FBI investigation for the remains of Jimmy Hoffa spurred a cottage industry of trinkets poking fun at the prospect of the dead Teamster as the town’s claim to fame.

Those cupcakes pictured above say it all. The ghoulish green candy (or plastic?) hand, emerging from the dirt-colored chocolate frosting. Classic. Beats any tshirt.

Too bad that it’s looking like Hoffa isn’t in town. A reporter I knew long ago in St. Petersburg, who hailed from Buffalo, once told me that he had had it on some authority that, while he couldn’t say just where Hoffa’s final resting place was, that it definitely wasn’t under Giants Stadium, contrary to popular notion/humor. The search goes on — as does the merchandising.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/24/2006 10:39pm
Category: Food, History, Society
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I guess we’ve discovered a single redeeming thing about “Lost”: It’s made an obscure absurdist novel a hot commodity. Flann O’Brien’s “The Third Policeman”, first published in 1967 and irregularly in print ever since, is being bought up by fans of the show after a copy of the book appeared oh-so-briefly in a recent episode.

Why the fervor over an incidental prop? Here’s a good guess:

The “Lost” fandom are forever on the prowl for clues to the show’s plot secrets. Undoubtedly, these obsessives got a glimpse of a seemingly innocent background object, and figured it was a hint to solving the show’s mysteries. And an obscure little gem like “The Third Policeman” fits the bill nicely as a wink-wink-nudge-nudge clue.

Contributing to this: The recent real-life publication of “Bad Twin”, a novel “written” by one of the “Lost” characters. More merchandise than book, it is a clever hook for spurring on enthusiasm for the show. I’m sure fans surmised: If one book can be a clue, why not another?

Anyway, regardless of the reason for this sudden surge, the plot of “The Third Policeman” sounds intriguing, and worth picking up:

The last of O’Brien’s novels to be published and now reissued by Dalkey Archive, “The Third Policeman” is Flann O’Brien’s brilliant comic novel about the nature of time, death, and existence. Told by a narrator who has committed a botched robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a two-dimensional police station where he is introduced to “Atomic Theory” and its relation to bicycles, the existence of eternity (which turns out to be just down the road), and the view that the earth is not round but “sausage-shaped.”

There’s your “Lost” spoiler: The island is one big sausage!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/24/2006 09:54pm
Category: Publishing, TV
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I’ve developed a morning Starbucks habit: Get off my usual subway stop, emerge to street level, and make a pitstop at the strategically-situated outlet across the street from the Time Warner Center (for you stalkers out there).

Yes, I’ve become that which I’ve always despised. Really, just the latest iteration of such.

But at least I’m not plunking down five or six bucks daily for some frou-frouey candied-coffee drink. I get my basic order of black tea (tall — I refuse to utter the terms “vente” or “grande”), and maybe a bagel, and leave it at that.

But I may be slipping. For the last couple of days, I’ve taken to popping the lid of my drink and applying a couple of shakes of ground cinnamon into it. Something different.

Today, I veered even further: I went with ground nutmeg instead. Partly because I couldn’t find the cinnamon shaker at that particular counter, and partly for the famed hallucinogenic effects this spice induces. (Didn’t work, but the taste brought to mind Christmas… So maybe it did work after all.)

Tomorrow, I might go completely nuts and add both cinnamon and nutmeg in my tea. I’ll try not to take out too many baristas in the aftermath.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/24/2006 04:01pm
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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Tuesday, May 23, 2021

read the burn
Gotta love the subway. Between the record-setting filthiness and the big comeback in train graffiti, the experience is better than any amusement park ride.

I guess we’ll have to learn to live with the grime. But the City is getting proactive about the defacement by spending $25 million to refit cars with Mylar coatings that protect windows from paint and the new strain of acid-etched markings.

I haven’t noticed the dirtiness, but then, I’ve yet to take the E Train. I can live with that; just one more reason to avoid Queens…

But I have noticed the new-fangled graffiti. It’s hard not to — practically every car seems to have been victimized. Not that any sort of graffiti is tolerable, but this acid-burned kind strikes me as too crude to be distinctive. Since you have to apply the chemical super-quick to make a mark, the results are usually pretty sloppy.

I won’t miss the artificial scenery once the Mylar is applied. But my eyes won’t get bored, of course: In addition to gawking at my fellow passengers, there’s always the all-over in-your-face advertising wraps inside and outside cars. That’s not considered defacement, but…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/23/2006 11:27pm
Category: New Yorkin', Society
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Why did Roosevelt Union Free School District become the first-and-only school district ever to be taken over by the State of New York?

Maybe a superintendent junket to Argentina to the tune of $6,010 had something to do with it:

The audit questioned trips arranged by [district superintendent Ronald] Ross and a previous superintendent. The trip to Argentina, scheduled by Mr. Ross through a national group of superintendents, was what the audit called a 13-day “professional development” conference that included a cruise to the Antarctic. Though the trip was canceled, the $6,010 cost was not refunded. The audit questioned the trip’s “reasonableness and necessity.”

The real howler is Ross’ unrepentant defense:

“Yes, I need time off, and I might need to go not only to the South Pole but also to the North Pole,” Mr. Ross said. What he learns on such trips benefits students back home, he said. The audit claimed that Mr. Ross canceled the Argentina trip because of “the potential for opposition within the community.” But he denied that, saying he was simply too busy to go. “Why would I let some old biddies in the community stop me?” he said.

As long as it ultimately benefits the schoolchildren, Ross might as well indulge in that exceptional Argentine steak. What’s another thousand or two when education is at stake (pun intended)?

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/23/2006 10:45pm
Category: New Yorkin'
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Monday, May 22, 2021

It’s not over yet, but for now, the proposal to institute the “.xxx” top-level Web domain for pornography sites has been shot down.

My humble suggestion for the triple-x proponents: Build upon an established domain, thus giving your argument a traditionalist foundation.

How? Easy: Take the long-standing “.org”, add a “y”, and voila! You’ve got “.orgy“, baby. Let the games begin.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/22/2006 11:47pm
Category: Internet
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Who’s crazy enough to invest more and more money into the newspaper business in this, the Internet Age? MediaNews Group‘s chief Dean Singleton, that’s who. With the purchase of four former Knight Ridder major-market dailies, Singleton is progressing on his efforts to remake both the newspaper business and his onetime-cutthroat reputation within it.

But he might just be jinxing himself with his fervor over one of the KR carrion:

Indeed, Mr. Singleton intends to make a showcase of The San Jose Mercury News, in the heart of Silicon Valley, as a kind of laboratory for how to meld print with the Web. He is so excited about the prospects that he plans to buy a home in the Bay Area, while keeping his primary residence in Denver.

Moving to the San Jose area, you say? Formerly Miami-headquartered Knight Ridder corporate did just that in 1998, at the height of the dot-com boom. And look at how that turned out.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/22/2006 11:39pm
Category: Business, Publishing
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Thinking about adding Text Link Ads to your site/blog? The new Text Link Ads Link Worth Calculator will give you an idea (rough as it may be) of the kind of scratch you can make.

Since I just boosted this blog’s advertising space a couple of days ago, I’m quite attuned to alternate ad opportunities. And I’ve been eyeing Text Link Ads for a while. It’s appealing because its non-contextual nature means it can co-exist with Google AdSense, so I wouldn’t have to trade my existing assured revenue for a shot in the dark.

Still, there’s something about TLA that’s off-putting. It could be as superficial as the amateurish-looking website; I realize looks shouldn’t matter, but it doesn’t instill much confidence in me. That’s counterbalanced by the increasing proliferation of the ads across the Internet.

Plus, there’s the issue of where to place any new ad banner(s). This template wasn’t really designed with ads in mind; the only place left is in the left sidebar, and well below the fold, to boot. Combine that with the fairly low link worth the Calculator computed for this blog, and it seems like I’d be handicapping the ad performance from the get-go. Not sure it’d be worth it.

But this gives me something to chew on — which, no doubt, is the main purpose of this Calculator widget. It’s a soft-sell tool for snagging new TLA publishers, and I might eventually be one of them.

(Via Weblog Tools Collection)

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/22/2006 11:14pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin'
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capped?
Well, color me stupid.

Rather than trade Brad Richards, as I suspected they’d do at some point, the Tampa Bay Lightning today re-signed their top playmaking center for 5 years at $39 million.

It’s a great move for the Bolts, as Richards has been arguably their best player for the last three years. But was it the right move?

I see the Richards signing as just Part One of the story. Part Two is: Who’s getting shipped out of town?

The math remains the same: With this new deal, Tampa Bay has committed some $20-21 million next year to three forwards: Richards, Vinny Lecavalier, and Martin St. Louis. And don’t forget about their teammates: Including those three, some $34 million is committed to 13 players for next year (including the retired Dave Andreychuk). Last year’s $39-million team salary cap is expected to rise, but only slightly, to the $40-42 million range.

So that leaves, at most, $8 million to re-sign the likes of Pavel Kubina, Cory Sarich, and Ruslan Fedotenko. And, oh by the way — a goalie, as there’s no way John Grahame will be brought back. Eight mil just isn’t going to do all that.

Without at least one trade to clear cap room, the Bolts team for 2006-07 will have the same deficiencies as this season’s. Perhaps worse, without Kubina and/or Sarich; the organization isn’t exactly brimming with defensive farmhands (as evidenced by last year’s Timo Helbling experiment, before then-rookie Paul Ranger settled in). Handing over goaltending to prospect Gerald Coleman would be disastrous; if GM Jay Feaster is crossing his fingers on unrestricted free-agent goalie musical chairs bringing a stud to the St. Pete Times Forum, it’s a questionable roll of the dice.

The obvious trade bait is St. Louis, with the remainder of his 6-year, $31.5 million contract. The former league scoring leader was rumored to have been offered to the Blackhawks at this year’s trade deadline for Nik Khabibulin, so presumably Lightning brass already have him in play. But again, who would have a fit for the diminutive right wing? And can the Lightning fulfill a need in return, i.e. a starting goalie? (Anaheim comes to mind as a possibility, just because of the sudden expendibility of J.S. Giguere…)

Fredrik Modin also looks like a candidate for relocation. The cap savings wouldn’t be major, but his contract is up after the 2006-07 season, and with so much tied up in the Big Three, it’ll be pretty near impossible to retain him. He’d be much easier to move than St. Louis, and the emergence of Ryan Craig this past season means the Lightning won’t take an offensive hit.

In any case, it’ll be an eyebrow-raising offseason for the Bolts.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/22/2006 10:28pm
Category: Hockey
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Sunday, May 21, 2021

Who doesn’t hate spammers? But I concur with the experts on this clever bit of filter-slipping code-masking:

In this instance, a clever spam writer slipped a Viagra message past many filters by spelling the word with several I’s, then using HTML code to shove all of the I’s together. “Whenever you view this in your e-mail program,” [MessageLab antispam developer Nick] Johnson said, “the letter spacing is set to minus-3 pixels, so it will show all these I’s on top of each other, and it will look like one I.

“That was quite an impressive one, actually,” he said.

This trickery is the handiwork of Leo Kuvayev, a Russian/American who’s No. 3 on Spamhaus.org’s global serial spammer list. There’s creativity in even the most reviled vocations.

Incidentally, this is just another compelling reason to forgo HTML email as a default option, and just stick with text format. Really no good need for having that underlying code for no-frills email communication; if you need anything else, include an attachment.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/21/2006 07:44pm
Category: Creative, Internet
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We already knew about more people doing the daily two-hour ride on the Metro-North trains into New York. But regularly commuting from south of Trenton?

That’s the size of it for some workers, as their residential migration is expanding the definition of “New York City metro area”.

Interstate 84, which crosses southern Dutchess County just above the Putnam County line, used to be considered the boundary for most commuters to New York, said William J. Lavery, a regional vice president in Houlihan Lawrence’s Dutchess County offices. But that is no longer the case…

Orange County, northwest of Westchester on the other side of the Hudson River, has also become an alternative for prospective homeowners, among them police officers and firefighters who have been priced out of markets closer to Manhattan, said Greg Rand, the managing partner in Prudential Rand Realty, which has offices in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties. “Seven years ago,” Mr. Rand said, “Orange was just a rural upstate county, not a bedroom community for New York City. But then people saw what they could buy in Orange for the money, and they changed their thinking.” The median price in Orange at the end of 2005 was $320,000.

I grew up in Orange County; I object to the “rural” description. There’s plenty of farmland, but not much more than you’d find in Westchester or Nassau. Of course, from a five-boroughs perspective, any non-park area with more than three acres of green space is considered “rural”.

I always assumed the northern migration of City denizens was nothing new. A few of my cousins in the area used to do the train commute years ago, and it was considered fairly standard practice for many professions. I guess the trend has accelerated of late, in a large way:

In order to serve the increasing numbers of commuters from Orange County, which used to be considered “never-never land,” Mr. Brucker, the Metro-North spokesman, said, the railroad has contracted with New York Waterways for 10-minute ferry service across the Hudson from Newburgh to Beacon, and back again in the evening. Riders now number 280 a day, up from 200 when service began in January.

Beacon, on the Harlem Line, is one of the fastest-growing stations in the Metro-North system, Mr. Brucker said, in large part reflecting the increasing numbers of people commuting from Orange. Beacon now has 1,330 customers a day, he said, 45 percent from Orange, and ridership to Manhattan is up 50 percent from five years ago. The first ferry leaves Newburgh at 5:40 on weekday mornings; in Beacon, passengers can connect with a southbound train and arrive at Grand Central at 7:17 a.m.

All this plays into the increasing exurbization of not-quite-upstate New York. I’d previously made note of this dynamic a couple of times: Proposals to bulk up Stewart International Airport into NYC’s fourth major airport, and the changing face of older bedroom communities in the face of outward migration from city centers. The landscape is altering. One plus: Maybe Orange and Dutchess will lose the “upstate” tag soon, which was always ill-fitting (when I told people I was from “upstate New York”, they often assume Rochester or Buffalo…).

So much for what’s doing up the Hudson River. New York’s gravitational pull extends south, too. So far south that it’s weird:

Michael Galdi, an agent for Century 21 Advantage Gold in Philadelphia, is feeling some of that ripple. Commuters are buying row houses and multifamily houses in the Northwood and Castor Gardens sections of the city. From there, they can take elevated trains downtown, where they can change to Amtrak trains headed for Manhattan, or they can drive to work.

Translation: People living in Philly are commuting to Manhattan.

Wha?

I never imagined that could be possible, even with the trains and buses. I can understand moving out to less-populated areas for cheaper house values, and not being able to find a big-city job in your neighborhood. But wouldn’t you assume that Philly had a job market that could compete with New York’s, at least somewhat? I can’t believe someone would move all the way down there and continue to schlep to Penn Station or Grand Central. I’d bet those who made the move have started looking for jobs inside their own city’s limits.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/21/2006 06:31pm
Category: New Yorkin', Society
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Because I’m not satisfied with merely drinking tea all day and night, today I decided to marinate some beef with it.

Funny thing was, I was planning on making steak stir-fry for lunch today without any sort of marinade for the meat. Seems like I’d been using one sort of flavorizing agent or another for my past dozen cooking sessions; I thought I’d forego that and just go with a little pepper and other spices, and leave it at that.

But this morning, I had a cup of black currant tea. It’s okay, but I don’t drink it as much as I do other teas, flavored or unflavored. I wondered about why, and it struck me that the slightly-acrid berry flavor might be a good match with steak. And I vaguely recalled having some sort of dishes in the past that were tea-infused. So I figured, why not?

I found a couple of tea marinade recipes, but I didn’t feel like mixing ingredients. So I just boiled a cup of water, then seeped three of the currant teabags in that for a long while, to get that supersaturated consistency. After that, I just put the tea and the cut-up steak into a bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes. When it was time to cook, I poured meat and marinade into the pan (the tea dissolved in no time flat).

The result? Fair. The tea left behind a faint flavor, but it was hard to detect. I think next time, I’ll have to let the mixture sit for a lot longer, maybe an hour or more. Maybe make the supersaturated marinade stronger too, with an additional teabag. But it certainly didn’t ruin the steak. In fact, I’d bet the caffeination gave it something extra. So it was a worthwhile kitchen experiment.

Time for a cup of tea, again.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/21/2006 04:52pm
Category: Food
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screamed loudest
Finland’s greatest triumph and worst nightmare became one yesterday, as death-schlock-metal band Lordi delivered the country’s first-ever Eurovision victory with its ear-bleeding anthem, “Hard Rock Hallelujah”.

As with the irrational hand-wringing over Lordi’s qualification process, I’m sure Finns everywhere are having mixed emotions over this. But hey, I say this is fair compensation for having to settle for the silver in men’s hockey at Torino this year.

In retrospect, this shocker-rocker upset seems to have been inevitable. As is the prospect of an Americanized version of “the contest good taste forgot”:

NBC announced plans earlier this year to replicate the formula — a forerunner of “American Idol”-style talent contests — in the United States, with acts from different states competing for viewers’ approval.

The European Broadcasting Union, which runs Eurovision, said it was in talks with NBC over rights. If successful, the American version could go ahead as early as this fall, said the group’s director of television, Bjorn Erichsen.

I’ve got odds on Delaware winning the first one!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/21/2006 10:15am
Category: Creative, Pop Culture, TV
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Saturday, May 20, 2021

It’s opening weekend for The Da Vinci Code, meaning it’s raking in millions upon millions of dollars as I type this.

Meanwhile, I spent part of the afternoon watching Monty Python’s Life of Brian on DVD.

Shows you where I come down on the whole hidden-life-of-Jesus thang.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/20/2006 05:38pm
Category: Movies
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front-line defenses
So, what’s the deal with those big read concrete balls at the front of most Target superstores?

Their placement and heft put some in mind of building fortifications, perhaps to guard against urban terrorist assaults — or overzealous, car-ramming Black Friday shoppers.

I concur, but take it even further:

Oh, I always assumed they were designed as fortification defenses. Very astute of Target Corp. — you never know when civilization’s going to collapse! And when it does, you’ll be able to hole up in your local Target and ensconce yourself in a rainbow of bargains ;)

I guess I’m just amused by the notion of Target being a safe haven in a post-apocalyptic world. Supermegastores are such a fixture in the societal landscape now; why not envision them as building blocks for a rebuilding world?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/20/2006 05:34pm
Category: Business, Comedy
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Here’s an interesting discovery:

A few nights ago, I was making a song purchase on iTunes Music Store. I clicked the purchase button, confirmed that I wanted to buy that song, and watched as the download began…

And then, the lights went out.

The worst-case scenario happened: A power-outage right in the midst of pulling in a file. Worse yet, it was a file that I’d just paid real money for! My computer stayed on, since it’s a notebook with built-in battery; but the Internet connection cut off, and the mid-stream file just disappeared. I figured I was screwed, that Apple had gotten my 99 cents and registered the purchase as being in the bag.

When the power and Web came back an hour later, I clicked the purchase button on that same song. Partly I wanted to see if it would pick up on the previous attempt, but mostly I just wanted to buy the song, finally.

I was pleasantly surprised to get a popup dialogue box from ITMS that informed me that the system showed me as having already purchased that song, but not having downloaded it. It gave me the option of retreiving it now, already paid for. Naturally, I did.

So, a disconnect in mid-transmission doesn’t mean you’re out of luck on iTunes. Useful to know for situations where your power and/or Web connection might be iffy.

It also gives an indication of how transactions are processed through the music store: I guess the purchase is registered to your account first, and the file delivery kicks in only afterward. Smart backend design.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/20/2006 04:36pm
Category: Tech
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round three
Astute visitors today will notice a new wrinkle on this blog: An additional AdSense box, placed at the bottom of the posted content and/or the page (depending on whether you’re looking at a single-post page or a multiple-post one).

What can I say? I live in New York now; it’s a tad more expensive than Florida.

Actually, I’ve been wanting to add another for a while. The existing ad units in the top and top-left of this site — implemented some nine months ago — have been performing pretty well. Since Google allows placement of up to three boxes on a page, I figured I was practically losing money in not taking things to the limit. I could even throw in a couple of referral banners and text-link units, but for now, I’ll stick with the traditional boxes.

What prompted me today was this Inside AdSense mini-case study about how border-less boxes seem to pull in more revenue than bordered ones. I don’t experiment as much with the advertising options on this online space as I’d like, so I’ll take the opportunity to test the clickthru effectiveness of different layouts. And, depending on performance, it’ll provide some fodder for a future post.

A secondary reason: The lack of a true footer for this blog layout always kind of bugged me. It’s obviated somewhat by the way multiple posts stretch the vertical on this page; but still, scrolling all the way down to page’s end and seeing nothing but that last post signature and white space always made me wince a bit. My old blog had a footer, and strictly from a stylistic perspective, it served to complete the page layout. An adbox isn’t an ideal solution, but short of some template tinkering that I’m not inclined to do right now, it’s good enough.

I’m curious to see how this third box performs. I decided on the 336×280 large rectangle because it’s one of the better-performing units in the AdSense roster. Plopping it well below the fold on most monitors seems to negate that, but some studies suggest a footer ad actually has something going for it:

For example, on pages where users are typically focused on reading an article, ads placed directly below the end of the editorial content tend to perform very well. It’s almost as if users finish reading and ask themselves, “What can I do next?” Precisely targeted ads can answer that question for them.

Yes, it’s a bit tricky, but who am I to resist online readers’ need for that next convenient clickthru spot?

Anyway, as with previous posts on this subject, this one’s purpose is mainly as a record for the start date to this experiment. If anyone else finds it useful, it’s a bonus.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/20/2006 02:59pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin'
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Friday, May 19, 2021

head to head
I’ve yet to catch the Gatorade “Big Head” commercial that’s burning up this blog’s traffic logs.

But since everyone’s ending up here (actually, here, about Gatorade’s “Winning Formula” video-trickery), I might as well post a little something about it, along with that link to the grainy YouTube version. (Oddly, it doesn’t appear to reside on Gatorade’s official online ad gallery; must be why so many people are Googling for it.)

It’s as funny as video-superimposed heads of Derek Jeter and Kevin Garnett on little-kid bodies can be. Having trash-talk in children’s voice coming out of their mouths was a nice extra touch.

I was chagrined that no NHL players were represented in this spot. At first I figured, it’s showing off summertime sports, and hockey would be an odd fit. And I considered that the NHL is probably at its lowest point, clout-wise, in relation to the other major league team sports as it’s ever been — and that’s saying something.

But then I realized: Powerade is the official sports drink of the NHL. Hence the omission of puckheads from the Gatorade cuteness. Too bad; a toothless hockey player would be a nice addition.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/19/2006 09:46pm
Category: Advert./Mktg.
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Trying to wean off the bean, but suspicious about what lurks below that orange-topped carafe of java? Chemist Jack Ladenson comes to your rescue with an idea for an on-the-go drink dipstick that will change color according to the caffeine content of the liquid tested.

What he envisions is something that might work similar to a home pregnancy strip.

“We hope to configure a test that could be used by anybody,” said Mr. Ladenson, who is leading a group of scientists at Washington University in the effort.

Comedic potential aplenty for any ladies who get their caffeine- and pregnancy-check strips mixed up…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/19/2006 09:16pm
Category: Food, Science
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Thursday, May 18, 2021

So: Have you ever used a pair of chopsticks to eat a hotdog?

Until a few days ago, neither had I. But I did it: Plucked the weiner right off the barbecue grill with the same utensils that I had just used on the sushi tray. Somewhat tricky maneuver, but I managed to not drop it.

Anything for a thrill.

The only downside was that I couldn’t eat said hotdog with a bun. I guess if I ever go on an Atkins kick, I’ll have an elegant way to avoid the bread during cookouts.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/18/2006 11:25pm
Category: Food
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I had always found it odd that New York City, with its wealth of professional creatives, was home to only one Apple Store, in SoHo.

No more: Apple’s second retail outlet in the Big Apple will be of the ritzy variety, located on Fifth Avenue. It’s housed in a stunning architectural site, and will be open 24/7/365, to boot.

The location is not too far out of the way of my usual morning walk to work. If the weather’s not too crappy tomorrow (it’s supposed to be thunderstorming), I’ll have to swing by for the big grand opening. Maybe I’ll even buy an accessory for my iPod.

While there, I can marvel at how this latest Mac-stand represents the success of Apple’s grand retail strategy, blending distinctive branding with premium revenue generation.

Analysts predict the latest store will be a magnet. Others already draw more than 10,000 visitors a week, on average. Altogether, Apple’s stores pulled in $2.35 billion in sales in fiscal 2005, making it one of the fastest growing retailers in the world, according to Retail Forward, an Ohio-based consulting and market research firm.

The stores’ growth rate in revenue per store — an increase of 44% from 2004 to 2005 — eclipses industry norms. By comparison, major retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy saw growth rates of 3% to 6% in 2005.

Apple’s stores also reap more revenue per square foot than others: Its annual sales of $2,489 for every square foot of space is more than eight times that of Target and 2.5 times that of Best Buy, according to Forrester Research Inc.

The stores, along with innovative products like the iPod, helped Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple reach a record of nearly $14 billion in revenue last year.

“What the stores have done is really build the Apple brand,” said Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Co., an investment banking and asset management firm. “It’s so consistent with what Apple is that it has really added value to the entire enterprise.”

As usual, Apple shows off a core stylistic sensibility to which the rest of the computer industry is practically allergic. And it’s paying off handsomely — go figure.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/18/2006 11:16pm
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Tech
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