This conversation is based on three facts; one, I come from a background of dealing with retailers of all sizes and independent sales reps. Two, my perspective is of a manufacturer, and three, I am looking at the retail world from the perspective of a niche market product; big and tall.
I have worked with the biggest apparel retailers on three continents, with all the demands and stipulations, and at the same time I have had to deal with 'mom and pop' stores where the owner would get the UPS driver to leave for a few moments while they removed the product of one box of COD goods and replace them with old junk and then refuse the delivery; keeping the new merchandise and returning a box of old stuff, all unpaid for!
I did view the arrival of the internet as "Freedom!" Freedom, from the dog eat dog world of retail where the manufacturer was what the rest of the food chain fed on. I now realize that as a manufacturer, the internet opens up a variety of opportunities to create new points of interaction with the consumer; and in fact, it has created an opportunity for a manufacturer of a brand to equalize the retail equation.
You could literally have a marketing event every week of the year! The emails that you blast out on a regular basis could be for something other than a discount or a sale and you would not only be creating a community around a brand but also a stronger sense of community among the community!