A quarter-century goes by quickly in the publishing business, but just how fast does it go in retail? When DDI Magazine started (as Display & Design Ideas) with a December issue 25 years ago, retail was a very different animal from what it is today. In fact, one of the reasons we started DDI was that we foresaw changes in the industry on the horizon. We weren’t so savvy that we could have imagined a 30-store chain called Starbucks would grow to some 20,000 locations. Nor did we foresee the emergence of factory outlets, big-box retail or stores for music players and phones—or even instant teddy-bear-manufacturing shops. What we did see was the upcoming rise in specialty retail.
Our role in the industry has evolved over the past 25 years. To be frank, in the first year, we had our hands full just getting the brand started and surviving, which, despite our oversized tabloid format and admittedly unhip design, we did. Once we had established ourselves in the market, we saw our mission as enabling the growth of the industry, which in turn would help us grow as well. In that vein, we developed and produced The Store Fixturing Show, which evolved into GlobalShop, now in its 20th year. Despite the ruckus that the show’s introduction caused, both DDI and GlobalShop now lead the market, and put us in the position to set our sights on other missions.
Our support of the industry’s educational foundation, PAVE, began in the very early days of GlobalShop and continues today. From the start, we saw the need to continue to inspire future leaders in the industry, which led us to establish the annual Markopoulos Award, named after the late Andy Markopoulos, who was then the vice president of visual merchandising for Dayton Hudson/Marshall Fields. The award, now entering its 17th year, was developed to recognize industry leaders at the top of their field, who also emulated Andy’s dedication to mentoring the next generation. Our original vision for the award was to strengthen and increase visibility of the visual merchandising profession with the goal of enabling the rise to president/CEO-level positions through the pathway of visual merchandising and design. We’ve actually seen that happen—case in point, Tony Mancini, formerly with (among others) Herman’s World of Sports and Disney, now president of fashion house Alex Cannon.
It is the people in the industry who have made a difference not only to us here at DDI, but the retail world at large. Retail design improves the shopper experience, delights the consumer with ever-improving experiences and strengthens the economy—yes, retail sales are a critical part of our nation’s economic health. It is the people in our industry who we have befriended, who we honor with every single issue. It is the people in the industry and the various organizations to which they belong—like A.R.E., POPAI and RDI—that continue to advance our market. We are proud to be associated with those organizations and to ensure their continued strength in the marketplace by partnering with them.
There are new challenges that face us, and there is a new mission today—enabling not only the growth of our marketplace domestically, but also expanding globally with our audience’s companies: design firms, retailers and consumer product manufacturers. Through our multiple channels of communication—print magazine, website, blog and digital edition—we have a worldwide audience that is many times larger than the 18,000 that we began with a quarter-century ago.
The industry has been great to us (for which we are most appreciative), and we hope that we continue to be great to the industry as well. Certainly, with our current team on DDI—the best and most experienced in our history, led by Executive Editor Alison Embrey Medina and Publisher Orlando Llerandi—we are in a position to make the next quarter-century even better. If it is as fun as the first 25 years, I’m sticking around for it. How about you?
Vice President, Content
DDI Founder, Former Publisher