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Retail Brew // Morning Brew // Update
Inside New Balance’s new Massachusetts factory
Morning Brew August 03, 2022

Retail Brew


Happy Wednesday. Taco Bell said it’s bringing back its Mexican Pizza on September 15 after a three-month hiatus due to supply constraints. No word yet on when we’ll finally get to see Dolly Parton and Doja Cat star in Mexican Pizza: The Musical.

In today’s edition:

—Katishi Maake, Maeve Allsup, Erin Cabrey


Balancing act

New Balance shoe boxes stacked on top of each other Francis Scialabba

If you walk through the front entrance of New Balance’s new Methuen, Massachusetts, facility, you’ll notice a plaque that touts their shoes as being “Made in the USA.” Walk further into the heart of the factory, and you can’t avoid the giant American flag draped across the wall.

New Balance’s Methuen facility only manufactures one shoe: the Made 990v5 running sneaker, which COO Dave Wheeler was sporting the day of our tour. We observed how workers construct the shoes, which sell for $184.99, from beginning to end.

  • The factory began operations in January this year.
  • The 80,000-square-foot facility, located roughly 28 miles north of Boston, was a $20 million renovation project of a property New Balance purchased in 2019.
  • The company currently aims to produce 750,000 pairs annually by the end of the year, all “made in America.”

In Lawrence, Massachusetts, where New Balance has a mill that has been operational for 40+ years, New Balance is more capable of smaller-volume unique collaborations, like retro shoes—including the 998—which uses repurposed material the company has on hand.

Here’s how New Balance manages to do it all.KM



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Seller’s market

amazon office SmithCollection/Gado/Getty Images

“Mr. Bezos, I believe you’re on mute.”

Jeff Bezos’s testimony during federal hearings into alleged anticompetitive practices might not be quite as memorable as that time Mark Zuckerberg had to explain the internet to Congress, but federal antitrust law has still managed to monopolize headlines in recent months, with even late-night host John Oliver weighing in.

Amazon has been in the hot seat and is facing questions in the US and abroad about data privacy and pricing:

  • The big antitrust issue for Amazon when it comes to data is whether it collects and uses information from sellers to develop private-label products, which can then compete for customers on the platform.
    • Amazon has repeatedly denied the accusation, including in front of a congressional subcommittee in 2020. (The subcommittee later asked the Justice Department to step in to investigate potential obstruction of Congress.)
    • The EU, Germany, and the UK all have their own probes. Earlier this month, Amazon moved to settle with the EU, agreeing to “stop collecting nonpublic data about merchants that it competed with” on the platform, according to Reuters.
  • Amazon also faces allegations that “the pricing agreements Amazon imposes on third-party sellers are facially anticompetitive and allow Amazon to illegally build and maintain monopoly power in the online retail market” from Washington, DC’s attorney general Karl Racine.
    • In 2021, Racine sued Amazon alleging “illegal control of prices across [the] online retail market.” A Superior Court judge dismissed the case in March, but the attorney general is appealing, with support from the Biden administration.

Juggling act: “There’s a lot of different plates spinning now that all relate to the same issue,” Mark McCareins, clinical professor of business law at Northeastern University’s Kellogg School of Management, told Retail Brew. “But at the end of the day, the litmus test is federal court.”

And Amazon’s argument that sellers have other options and aren’t forced to use its platform is likely to be vindicated by the courts, he said.

“Under 100-plus years of antitrust legal precedent—much of it set by our Supreme Court—simply because a firm has grown large, has innovated, and has achieved even a dominant position in the market, is not, in and of itself, illegal,” McCareins said.

+1: Meanwhile, the Senate has three weeks left to vote on an antitrust bill sponsored by Minnesota Democrat and one-time presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar before its August recess. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has indicated the bill might not have enough support to make it to the floor.—MA



Coworking with Deja Amato

Deja Amato Deja Amato

On Wednesdays, we wear pink spotlight Retail Brew’s readers. Want to be featured in an upcoming edition? Click here to introduce yourself.

Say hello to Deja Amato, product marketing manager at SMS-marketing company Attentive. She worked in product marketing across several industries, from finance to construction, before landing in marketing tech with a focus on retail and e-commerce last year.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in retail? I help marketers understand how text messages (or SMS marketing) can help them better communicate with their customers and create more meaningful shopping experiences. I uncover client challenges that I map back to our offerings and then help communicate these key benefits.

One thing we can’t guess about your job from your LinkedIn profile: While I do spend a lot of time planning and preparing for product launches, most of my time is really spent giving people advice.

Which emerging retail trend are you most excited about this year, and why? Using conversational marketing to bridge the gap between online and in stores and create a hybrid retail experience. The rise of e-commerce changed the way we approach retention and promotional marketing, requiring retailers to figure out how to digitize the in-store experience and bring it directly to the customer. It’s been really interesting to see what tactics brands employ to solve this problem.

What’s your go-to coffee order? Chai tea latte with two shots of espresso (aka a dirty chai).

Worst piece of advice you’ve received? Fake it until you make it. I think this commonly used advice sets the wrong precedent, especially for people prone to imposter syndrome. Authenticity is key, and you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not to be successful.

What was your favorite retail product when you were 15, and what’s your favorite retail product now? At 15, it was definitely my iPod! I’d burn CDs and upload the music to my iPod to take everywhere. Now, it’s definitely my PS5 (sorry to everyone still struggling to find one).—EC




Growing and glowing in retail. Wanna stand out on the shelf—IRL and online? In Bazaarvoice’s upcoming webinar, experts lay out the biggest growth opportunities that drive retail presence, the investments that can have the greatest economic impact, and how to grow your digital and in-store presence. Register here.



Today’s top retail reads.

Popping in: Rogue sellers on Amazon are selling Dum Dum lollipops for cheaper than their parent company, Spangler Candy Co., through drop-shipping methods banned by the e-comm site. “It became a tsunami we can’t control,” Sprangler’s e-comm chief Mitchell Owens said. (Bloomberg)

Seeing green: A look at sustainable manufacturing efforts in China, the largest global apparel exporter. (Business of Fashion)

Food for thought: From the infant-formula shortage to a slew of recent product recalls, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf has found that the food side of the agency could use more attention and is making moves to revamp it. (Food Fix)

Rave reviews: Your best advertising content comes from happy customers. And Bazaarvoice’s 2022 Shopper Experience Index shows you how to highlight user-generated content (UGC) and stay steady amid ever-shifting trends. Get it here.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


Women in Retail and Total Retail Virtual Exchange

Women in Retail and Total Retail Virtual Exchange

Engaging and informative interviews with leading retail executives on a variety of mission-critical industry topics. These free interactive discussions provide valuable insights. Register today! We’re live at 12:00pm ET on August 18 with executives from Mattel, Vera Bradley, thredUP, and more.


  • Starbucks notched record revenue of $8.2 billion last quarter, driven by cold drinks, which made up 75% of its sales.
  • Ulta debuted a $20 million VC fund called Prisma Ventures, investing in early-stage beauty-tech companies.
  • Glossier laid off about two dozen employees, after laying off 80+ employees in January.
  • Oatly manufacturer Lyons Magnus issued a recall for 53 products it produces due to potential contamination.
  • Shopify invested $100 million in email and SMS marketing platform Klaviyo.


The Federal Reserve building with money behind it. Douglas Rissing/Getty Images

Cash use declined between 2019 and 2020, but climbed slightly in 2021, per the Federal Reserve, but consumers are also increasingly interested in tap-to-pay and other contactless payment options.

Last week, results of our snap poll show that our 686 respondents were split nearly dead-even on payments. Just under 49% said they’d prefer to pay with cold, hard cash, while about 51% said they’d rather keep their hands clean with other forms of payment.


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Written by Katishi Maake, Maeve Allsup, and Erin Cabrey

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