RETAIL SCHMETAIL™ is a lively, thorough, and slightly irreverent examination of retailing in America over the last 100 years.

It begins with the story of identical twin brothers, Al and Lou Stein, who (after returning from World War II) set up shop in downtown Milwaukee in a space more closely resembling a neighborhood garage sale than a bona fide retail operation. Even though neither of these two “from the gut” marketing guys had a high school diploma, they more than compensated for it with their ingenuity, drive, and legendary sense of humor.

Al’s oldest son, Sandy, spent countless hours at “the store” observing the Twins’ antics in this Petri dish of mid-century consumerism. This experience primed him for a rich and wide-ranging career in retail design and consumer trending; and would ultimately provide him many opportunities to share the lessons he learned at Jewelry & Toy Center (circa 1960) with clients and audiences on three continents.

RETAIL SCHMETAIL™ examines the icons, agents of change, and creators of brands in every category, describing the careers of the men and women who, over the last century, influenced what we bought and why we bought it. The book provides an insightful overview of the fundamentals of branding and design and how they have influenced our decision making; this is then combined with a detailed analysis of what makes a great customer experience. RETAIL SCHMETAIL™ lifts the veil on the behind-the-scenes, psychological, emotional, and design constructs that separate defining brands from also-rans. It also takes an in-depth look at how technology has provoked unprecedented industry disruption but at the same time has sowed the seeds for the “virtual” reinvention of retail. Stein shares stories about his notable clients and mentors who have played leading roles in his forty-plus-year career in retail planning, trend forecasting, and design.

All the brainy stuff is tempered by stories of Stein’s dysfunctional childhood, his overt geekiness (long before it was fashionable), and his dealing with lifelong chronic illness, discovering coping mechanisms that have helped guide and enlighten but have never defined him. Stein also shares the story of the small but pivotal role he played nearly fifty years ago in the Twins’ personal and professional reinvention and eventual launch of a completely unique concept and defining brand in the marketplace.

Keynote speaking and seminars are being scheduled for early 2014 in conjunction with the book launch. You may contact Sanford directly at to plan an event and schedule an appearance.

About the Author

Sanford Stein is a designer, retail trend forecaster, speaker, and writer, as well as trusted advisor to some of this country's leading brands.

Since 1981, SteinDesign and Stein LLC have created over 400 retail projects nationally and internationally, ranging from prototypes to niche concepts, and store-in-store branded shops.

For the last three decades Sanford Stein has consistently and correctly predicted consumer trends while advising some of this country's leading brands and lived to talk about it; to audiences on three continents. With the 2014 publication of RETAIL SCHMETAIL" ONE Hundred Years, TWO Immigrants, THREE Generations, FOUR Hundred Projects, Sandy shares the story's, and lessons learned from some of this country's premier retailers and agents of change.

Mr. Stein's diverse national and international audiences have included GlobalShop, Las Vegas; National Retail Federation Annual Convention & Expo, NY; National Retailers Association of Mexico, Mexico City;1st Latin-American Congress for Fashion Developers, Rio de Janeiro; Congress on Trends in Retail, Amsterdam; ABEMD n Brazilian Direct Marketing Association, Sao Paulo;Design Futures Council, Aspen; and many more. Excerpts of Mr. Stein's addresses have appeared in such diverse publications as Metropolis, The Seattle Times, Kansas City Star, Minneapolis StarTribune, Women's Wear Daily's and Crain's Chicago Business.

Since its inception in 1981, SteinDesign, and more recently STEIN LLC has been an industry leader in creating unique and highly effective branded environments, while focusing on the ever-changing world of retail trending, branding and design. The firm has been responsible for over 400 retail projects ranging from regional and national prototypes, to niche concepts and store-in-store branded shops.

STEIN's client list includes such diverse names as: Anderson Renewal, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Brunswick Billiards, General Growth Properties, Hunter Douglas, Levolor, Life Fitness, Mall of America, TaylorMade Golf, Red Wing Shoes, ShopNBC, and Target to name just a few. Sanford has written or contributed to over 70 articles appearing in a variety of publications, including: Interior Design, Interiors, Visual Merchandising and Store Design, Retail StoreImage, STORES,World's Best Store Designs, and Retail Reporting's Stores of the Year.

Contact Us

Keynote speaking and seminars are being scheduled throughout 2014. You may contact Sanford directly at to plan an event and schedule an appearance.

Sanford Stein
2250 Sherwood Ct.
Minnetonka, MN 55305


Benjamin Franklin Award

“Join Sandy Stein on this wonderful, humor-filled journey through the retail landscape of the past century! Part history, part memoir, and all applicable to today’s shift from merchandising goods to staging retail experiences.”

—B. Joseph Pine II, co-author of The Experience Economy