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  • Here’s a kind-of-a-shocker: Ultra-hip social marketplace Tictail‘s brick-and-mortar flagship is that it’s not profitable.

    Tictail Market is the brand’s one and only storefront, located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side — and surprisingly, the IRL store makes less in revenue than even many of the e-commerce site’s online independent sellers.

    “The [brick-and-mortar] store makes about $50K a month; rent is $17K. Salaries and expenses bring us close to $8K, and that about covers it,” co-founder Carl Walderkrantz admits to Forbes readers.

    So why is it important for an e-commerce site that pulls in millions of shoppers a week to offer an in-person experience that doesn’t generate significant profits?

    Is it just to be able to flaunt kickass storefront gifs? (Courtesy of Tictail NYC)
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    Walderkrantz says that while the “future is moving toward online, the joy of shopping is still synonymous with an in-person experience” for many customers.

    And in the tradition of other successful sites like Warby ParkerBonobos and Away and less-that-lucative storefront was the best way to guarantee local awareness.

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    Photo courtesy TicTail

    “Tictail Market literally put us on the map in this city,” says Walderkrantz, adding that it gives the brand “street cred.”

    Originally, the DIY e-commerce site was developed as a means of giving entrepreneurs the ability to build online shops.

    Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 10.44.15 AM

    Photo courtesy of Tictail

    It is now touted as the ‘easiest platform for discovering emerging brands around the globe’ — a gateway to thousands of under the radar brands from over 140 countries via an easy-to-navigate social marketplace. Brands include By Far (Bulgaria), Orphée (France), Humanscales (Sweden), and Lina Michael (Sweden)

    Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 10.45.04 AM

    Photo courtesy of Lina Michael/Tictail

    And while mobile tools like Pinterest Visual Discovery continue to accelerate the switch from in-store browsing to online purchasing as we know it, Walderkrantz still believes that an IRL store is the best way to engage with a community of potential brand ambassadors.

    “It’s a way to connect the brands and shoppers, and make the shopping experience feel a lot more personal” he says.

    And the merits of a brick-and-mortal extend to larger brand partnerships, added social media activity through in-person events and flashy storefront art. “For each individual who visits your store, you should aim to reach another 50 through their extended network.”

    Sounds worth it, eh?

  • lee-helen morgan

    The second film from Swedish director Kasper Collin, I Called Him Morgan is an evocative, beautifully filmed documentary of a remarkable life cut short and a remarkably fertile period in New York City’s jazz scene. In February 1972, acclaimed 33-year-old trumpeter Lee Morgan was shot to death by his common-law wife Helen in an East Village club. The murder shocked all who knew the couple, including Morgan’s fans and fellow musicians, many of whom tried to make sense of the tragedy afterwards.

    Using interviews; gorgeous, iconic, black and white still photos; archival film clips, and moody reenactments—all underscored by a fabulous soundtrack—Collin constructs compelling portraits of both Lee Morgan and his common-law wife Helen, making their way in New York City’s hopping jazz scene from the late 1950s through the early ’70s. The story slowly builds up to that fateful night, providing details that many have apparently pondered for years. In doing so, Collin gives us a glimpse of the great talent possessed by Morgan, along with poignant memories of the people who nurtured and appreciated it. With its potent music, atmospheric footage of vintage NYC and artfully abstract recreations, the film also gives us a palpable sense of time and place.

    Photo: Francis Wolff, Mosaic

    Photo: Francis Wolff, Mosaic

    Collin’s main resource is an interview that Helen gave to radio host and jazz scholar Larry Reni Thomas in 1996, a month before she passed away. This fortuitous conversation came about when Thomas was teaching adult education at a Wilmington, N.C., high school and she happened to be one of his students. The tape, shown being played on an old cassette player, has a scratchy, otherworldly sound, rendering Helen’s raw testimony all the more haunting.

    We hear her story alternated with Lee’s, the latter mainly provided by musicians like one-time bandmate (Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers) and friend Wayne Shorter, who remembers first seeing teenage Lee playing with Dizzy Gillespie in the late 1950s. Very young and very talented, the Philadelphia-born Morgan is recalled as dapper and confident. We also hear excerpts from an interview that Lee himself gave in the early 1970s, in which he sounds as sharp and cool as his music.

    Insightful interviews are provided by various bandmates and other luminaries in the scene, including Jymie Merritt, Bennie Maupin, Albert “Tootie” Heath, and Billy Harper, who chart the rise of Morgan’s career in New York, followed by his descent into heroin abuse and subsequent career collapse. Helen is recalled as a fixture in their circle, a strong presence (and great cook) who would provide meals to musicians in her 53rd Street apartment. Originally from rural North Carolina, she had escaped the privations of the farm, first moving to Wilmington where she had children while still in her teens, then to New York City when her first husband died. Her son, Al Harrison—only 13 years her junior—tells of first meeting his mother when he was 21, among other recollections.

    Photo: Ben van Meerendonk

    Photo: Ben van Meerendonk

    It was Helen who took the fallen Morgan under her maternal wing, sending him to rehab, acting as manager and getting him club dates, and generally taking care of everything. As one acquaintance notes, “She had almost adopted a child.” (The film’s title refers to the fact that Helen didn’t like or use her husband’s first name.)

    We also meet Lee’s friend Judith Johnson, with whom he quickly developed a strong bond. As Lee spent more time with her, sometimes neglecting to come home at night, Helen became resentful of being relegated to Lee’s “main woman,” a role she had no intention of fulfilling, as she tells Thomas frankly. Neither woman was supposed to be at Slug’s Club where Lee was performing on that snowstorm-plagued night in February, a fact that makes the resulting tragedy seem all the more random and senseless.

    I Called Him Morgan is clearly a labor of love for Collin, whose 2006 documentary My Name Is Albert Ayler was similarly enlightening and evocative. Those who already revere Morgan will undoubtedly find the film fascinating; those who might not be familiar with the artist will probably be inspired to seek out his music.

    I Called Him Morgan opens on Friday, March 24, at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

    Marina Zogbi

  • Slothrust at Mercury Lounge

    In some recent discussions with musicians, bands, DJ’s and musical creatives, I made the point that for me, a flat performance is pretty much a worthless one. If you can’t take people on a musical journey than it’s just plain boring. It’s the bands and DJ’s that can cross genres that get my attention.  Case and point, Tell All Your Friends PR  turned us on to the new album from rock trio, Slothrust.  After listening to the album, I decided to do a review for the blog.  I have to admit, sometimes I don’t get past the first track, but “Surf Goth” got my attention.  The idea that they would start the album with an instrumental track was enough  for me, and when the show began on Saturday evening at Mercury Lounge it was the first track they played.

    Let me start by saying, their sound is on-point and very powerful. Particularly for a trio. They have great chemistry on stage, and their fans (including me) are really into them.  Musically, the band members are equally impressive as they effortlessly worked through songs that range from blues to grunge with elements of jazz.

    While Kyle Bann (bassist) had a continuous grin on his face, Leah Wellbaum maintained a certain attitude as drummer Will Gorin fiercely hit the skins as if it was possibly his last opportunity to play this year. Highlights from the new album- “Like a Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone,” “Mud,” “Sleep Eater,” and “Trial & Error,” which Wellbaum explained she wrote in high school.  From the older material- “7:30am” and “Magnets, Pt. 2.”

    It’s easy to understand why the band appeals to so many people.  Musically, they are highly talented, and smart, catchy lyrics such as “Don’t shake hands with the lonely kids because I hear that shit’s contagious” really grab you.  If you have the chance to see them live, don’t miss out.

    Upcoming Dates: 3/6, Johnny Brenda’s: Philadelphia, PA –  3/7, Black Cat: Washington DC – 3/9, Marble Bar: Detroit, MI – 3/10, Schubas Tavern: Chicago, IL – 3/11, Duck Room: St Louis, MO- 3/12, Tank Room: Kansas City, MO – 3/15, Larimer Lounge: Denver CO – 3/18, High Water Mark Lounge: Portland, OR – 3/20, Sunset Tavern: Seattle, WA – 3/22, Bottom of the Hill: San Fran, CA