Initially, 3-D printers were used in manufacturing to rapidly develop prototypes of new products, or by physicians and surgeons to plan reconstructive surgery. Their use continues to expand into other very customized applications: foods (chocolates, candy, crackers, pasta, pizza) and fashion (3D-printed bikinis, shoes, dresses). However, in April 2017, a London-based publication reported that Adidas is now using new materials in 3D printing, and has set its sights on the mass market. “Adidas initially plans batches of shoes tailored to specific sports or cities but hopes consumers will eventually be measured and tested in store to design perfectly-fitting shoes tweaked for an individual’s gait, weight and type of sport.” Ahh yes. There’s the key for retailers: “…measured and tested in store.” The success of this 'mass customization' of 3D printing will depend on retailers delivering one-on-one customer service. The very competitive edge that specialty retailers can magnify. And that is the real opportunity for specialty retailers. Likely there is no manufactured product category that is immune from 3D replication. (Yes, there are 3D knitted sweaters. And firearms….) It is only a matter of time. But remember, the ultimate success of 3D printing will depend on '3D retailers in 3D stores.' So we encourage you to start now. Consider how a service like this could be delivered in your stores, giving you yet another competitive edge. What different skill sets might you need on your sales staff? How might that affect your upcoming new hires? 3D printing is here now, and customers will soon become more familiar with it. Now is the time to get out in front of this trend!