Martha at Walmart?

One of our readers, Jim, was shopping at Wal-Mart and wandered into the crafts aisle. He saw a section of craft products that bore a striking resemblance to the Martha Stewart Crafts line and thought how horrible it was that a company would so closely mimic another company's packaging design. So sneaky, he thought: 'I bet they'll be sued by MSLO.'

As he got closer he realized that the craft products were from the Martha Stewart Crafts brand!

He was shocked, since he didn't realize they would be distributed there.

He says, "The prices were better than at Michael's. The line wasn't as diverse as the one at Michael's, but a nice mix to the products Walmart was offering. They also had items I haven't seen at Michael's - tear drop shaped ink pads sets and a stamp starter kit (clear block, letters, phases, etc)."

Kenn has also noticed that scrapbook message boards are alive with discussion about the arrival of the Martha Stewart Crafts line at Walmart. (Read the comments to see the link to the discussion board.)

This is interesting, since it marks the first real tickle of MSLO's association with another mass-market retailer other than Kmart in the United States. Earlier this year, MSLO opened the floor to the Crafts line, allowing other craft retailers around the country to distribute the brand. (It had initially begun as a Michael's exclusive.)

Also earlier this year, former CEO Susan Lyne noted that the company was free to discuss new relationships with other mass-market retailers, since the Kmart contract expires in 2010. Could Wal-Mart become the new Kmart for Martha's wares? The Martha Stewart Everyday line is already sold through Seiyu in Japan, a company 40% owned by Wal-Mart, so it would make sense.

How would you feel about going to Wal-Mart to get your Martha goods?


Your pal Kenn said...

Hmmm.. shopping at Walmart for Martha? I'm not sure I would do it. Great prices perhaps, but I think quality would be an issue. Walmart is not known for it's quality merchandise (in soft home catagory at least). I would think Target or Kohls would be a more suitable place to take the Everyday line. I struggle with Walmart as is.. the smell of the stores alone grosses me out. The frozen coke/popcorn combo just turns my stomach.
I think a Wal-Martha association would be a horrible move for the company. Perception alone would indicate that Martha had hit the lowest of low. For now, I'm thankful there's Macy's.


I'm with you there. Sandwiched between the compulsary McDonald's and the $2.99 bra bin is nowhere for Martha Stewart to be. I don't like what Wal-Mart stands for as a company: wellfare wages for its workers, a reputation for exploiting just about everything and everyone it touches, and just a general feeling of 'corporate obesity' under that sky of fluorescent lights.

On the other hand, Wal-Marts are everywhere - literally. Almost every country in the world has Wal-Mart. It would be a huge push for the Everyday brand. Given its success, MSLO would likely be able to negotiate pretty good terms, and its ubiquity would be guaranteed.

But still... It's Wal-Mart. What the line would gain in mass distribution it would lose in quality credibility.


Kenn said...

It seems as if it is true! Martha craft products are landing at Walmart stores. Here is a message board thread from a scrapbooking site:


I keep asking myself... is this the right thing to do??


Thanks for the link, Kenn. Keep in mind, that at the moment it's just the crafts line. Earlier this year, MSLO did say they'd open the line to other retailers besides Michael's. I guess Wal-Mart is one of them, which is surprising.

I think it could be great for distribution if Martha and Wal-Mart unite further in the coming years. There are just so many stores out there in so many countries: the largest shopping chain in the world.

But, as you've said, there's the quality issue. It's a definite concern.

With Martha gone from Kmart... would there be any reason to go?

Poor Kmart.

We'll watch this keenly!


Will said...

I never liked Wal-Mart. They were operating 100 stores in Germany for about 10 years. But this venture was a huge failure because the stores were not profitable. Moreover they were a big mess, no service and chaotic. Wal-Mart has a rather bad reputation here in Germany, also because they treated their employees incorrectly. In 2006 they sold all their locations to Metro.
I believe Wal-Mart owns the British hypermarket chain ASDA and are quite successfull with that.
I would not like to see Martha and Wal-Mart together. That would be like selling a McMartha at McDonald's.

Anonymous said...

The wal-mart here is already clearing out the crafts merchandise. It is now at Big Lots. It was a bust, apparently. I'm surprised; given the economy, I thought the Celebrate merchandise would've been a sure thing.

I am sad about the Everyday brand. 10 years ago, it was making millions for Kmart. What happened?

Anonymous said...

I noticed a lot of Martha merchandise including the crafts line at TJ Maxx/Home Goods.