Americans Really DON’T Need Cheap College Sweatshirts; AND Wal-Mart Gets a Re-Fresh?

New Wal-Mart Logo

From the news bin:

Steve & Barry’s, whose wild success over the past five years has been every bit as puzzling as their business model and inventory of cheap goods, appears to be in deep trouble:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Retailer Steve & Barry’s LLC is readying plans to close more than 100 of its stores, and is contemplating a full liquidation should it not find emergency financing, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website on Monday.

The article, citing people familiar with the company, said the retail chain is seeking a tentative plan for about $40 million in debtor-in-possession financing if it must file for bankruptcy protection. Steve & Barry could not immediately be reached for comment.

Wal-Mart’s aesthetics are notoriously un-glamorous; only downright-dingy Kmart is frequently considered worse. But Kmart always had one thing on ol’ Wallyworld, and that’s a slightly superior logo. But Wal-Mart is tossing out its ridged plastic letters in favor of something sort of retro:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is about to change one of the most familiar logos in corporate America.

Part of Wal-Mart’s continuing effort to update its once-dowdy image, the new logo for signs and building facades includes white letters on a burnt-orange background followed by a white starburst, according to an artist’s rendering that the company filed recently with planning officials in Memphis, Tenn.

In a change, the name will appear as one word: Walmart. When the company first started in 1962, the name was hyphenated by a dash. But in the past decade, the dash has been replaced by a star on stores and the corporate letterhead.

Hmm. The star reminds me mysteriously of Zayre. I wonder who else has ripped off that star.

Author: Caldor

Jason Damas is a search engine marketing analyst and consultant, and a freelance journalist. Jason graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a minor in Music Industry. He has regularly contributed to The Boston Globe,, Amplifier Magazine, All Music Guide, and 168 Magazine. In addition, he was a manager for a record store for over two years. Currently, he focuses on helping companies optimize their web sites to maximize search engine visibility, and is responsible for website conversion analysis, which aims to improve conversion rates by making e-commerce websites more user-friendly. He lives in suburban Boston.

128 thoughts on “Americans Really DON’T Need Cheap College Sweatshirts; AND Wal-Mart Gets a Re-Fresh?”

  1. I mean, I’ve put up with other logo changes, but THIS? That’s ugly, and it’s like changing the McDonald’s “M” to a circle that supposed to resemble to top of a hamburger!

    Steve & Barry’s is dying: yay
    Means that other malls will lose their S&B’s anchor: nay

  2. That Steve & Barrys news comes as a big suprise.

    I’ll say this much though. Southridge (in Milwaukee)….if they lose S&B, at least it’ll clear much of that entire anchor space, along with the Linens & Things that’s pulling out of its 40,000 Sq Ft spot on the second floor, which Simon could probably buy out, raze, and build out either a new anchor pad for a high-end anchor (which the mall frankly needs to survive into the next decade), or create a new lifestyle section to the mall. They just have to move Cost Plus / World Market to another part of the building or an outparcel.

    You know, part of me likes the ‘retro’ styled Walmart logo. The one’s I’m familiar with were those from the 1980s, where the letters were thinner and spaced further apart, and the current one, where the letters are thicker and closer together.

    The new one…..while it won’t get me shopping at WM regularily any time soon (I gotta support the local guys…in my case, ShopKo for general merch. Festival Foods for groceries)…it DOES look better to my eyes, and harkens back to the days when K-mart was king, and in my area, Prange-Way was popular.

  3. I have not embraced some logo changes. Burger King was the worst makeover ever. It is terrible. But then there are some like the new Kmart logo that I love.

    I give the new Walmart logo a resounding thumbs UP! Thank God they got rid of the hyphen. I don’t like hyphenated names, period. (I’m Mizz Agnes P. Dumbkinpoop-Importance). Second, that stupid star was so white trash. Why not put an eagle on top of the W while you’re at it.

    I like the new font, and the sunburst is simple and tasteful. It does look mysteriously like the former Zayre logo. Good. I liked it when they used the “asterisk”, so why not? The color scheme is swinging toward the warm tones used by Kmart and Target. From a marketing point of view, red and orange are the two colors most consumers remember, according to studies.

    But hey, to each their own.

  4. The Steve & Barry’s news in not surprising. They simply grew too big too fast, and a lot of what they sell is utter garbage. The oversized stores really sank the ship, i think. A fast fashion concept works at 20,000 square feet, but 100,000 square feet? You have to be doing some major volume to pull that off profitably, and at the dead malls S&B’s preferred, it just wasn’t happening.

    As for Wal-Mart, ahem Walmart, the new logo isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. It seems more neutral than anything else, which could be what they’re looking for, but it doesn’t have the power of distinction that other neutral logos like JCPenney and Kohl’s and even Kmart, have. Even the little symbol to the side seems indecisive.

  5. I just have to comment since you brought up the Kohl’s logo. I miss the old cursive script logo for Kohl’s. This new logo looks like cookie dough that was put into a very hot oven and left to “puff” out. Very cold and unattractive, to me anyway. I agree with you about the indesisiveness of the asterisk at the end of the new Walmart logo. It’s like they wanted to rip off the Zayre asterisk, but didn’t quite have the balls to just steal it.

  6. And to note, Kohl’s has been using that logo for over 20 years already.

    They dropped their ‘signature’ (script) logo after the chain broke away from BATUS’ ownership. One of the first things the new incorporation (Kohl’s Corp) did was instate a new corporate identity, to which, we got the logo we’re familiar with now.

    However, my trips down to West Bend WI as a young mall rat netted me that classic Kohl’s “department stores” banner and script. Fond memories.

  7. If you go to the website and go to the About Us Tab, then click on milestones, you will see the old logo. I tried to cut and paste it, but the format of this site doesn’t allow for it.

  8. I guess walmart is going with a more conservative look?
    But as for steve & barry’s that’s a shame.
    Sure there merchandise is cheap & tacky, but being as a last minute resort to fill in the empty in a mall will lead to even worse conditions in our dieing retail economy.

  9. Steve & Barry’s concept worked because they convinced mall owners to give them upfront payments to enter their malls. No doubt, they did this in one too many dead mall and couldn’t build customer bases. the original store in Ann Arbor was in an old Kresge’s in the stretch of downtown near the campus, almost next to the original Border’s. That’s probably the model they should have kept.

  10. I like Steve & Barry’s. Sure, it’s not the best clothing in the world, but I was getting excited for more pop culture clothing. I was looking forward to a Cheers shirt or a Match Game shirt. Knowing them, they’d probably make it with a sexual phrase. It’s the thought that counts. Right? Too many licenses too fast and too much expansion. They just reopened the Racine, WI location last month after renovating too. Besides, how can one survive with everything in the store $8.98 or less? I really hope they somehow survive.

    As for Walmart, I have two theories. One, they’re going for nostalgia with the Zayre like asterisk. Or two, someone who worked for Zayre currently works for Walmart and suggested it.

  11. It so clearly mirrors the Zayre pop icon image. I say, “If you’re going to steal, just do it and get it over with by taking it in its original form”. TJ Maxx let the trademark die. I checked the trademark website and it’s up for grabs.

    Just a thought 😉

  12. Never was a Steve and Barry’s fan and as a Menlo Park Mall shopper, they just don’t work there and I’m still perplexed as to why Simon wanted them knowing the direction they are going with Menlo Park. If Menlo Park’s S&B’s is going to close, maybe they’ll finally do something with that wing like expand with 2 levels and add Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales…one could hope. And if they close the Livingston Mall location, that’s going to free up a nice chunk of space.

    On the Walmart logo, I actually like it. Has a classy look to it.

  13. Maybe once we actually see the new logos and signs come out in their stores it will look better. I can sort of picture what it would look like on my local Walmart store. Interesting.

    Didn’t ShopKo change their logo? And what about the logo going from All Caps SEARS to the Sears. That one really didn’t seem to take off, unless they are phasing that in extremely slowly.

  14. Shopko did change their logo. The new logo is a softer script, and also sports their new slogan: “My life, my style, my store” It sounds kind of weak, if you ask me. This is the fourth logo for Shopko. The first logo was one in which the k had a longer “foot” on it, extending downward. The slogan at that time was: “Say hello to a good buy, at Shopko”. The second was when they went with the seventies colors of yellow orange and burnt orange. It had these colored stripes behind the same styled letters, set against a black background. The third logo saw a brand new font. Big, chunky, jagged, and ugly. The color scheme changed to a patriotic red, white, and blue. They finally ditched that one for the current logo.

    The new Sears logo is displayed on their website. It is both upper and lower case letters. They figured out that the human eye responds more favorably to the variation in case. My favorite Sears logo was their second one: the one with very simple, but elegant, thin block letters.

  15. CoryTJ: my fave Sears logo is that real early one that was done in script-type font. Very classy looking.

    The new Walmart logo looks pretty good, actually. MUCH better than the one they have now. It’s about time they made a change!

  16. All the newer logos look like crap to me. Walmart? Seriously? I always associate “Walmart” with idiots who can’t bother to reach the hyphen.
    Kmart, Payless Shoe Source, Goody’s, Discovery Channel, Sears, Steve & Barry’s, McDonald’s (interior), is bland and crappy.

    The only reprieve is Saks, which reverted back an older logo, that looks somewhat nice. Not some new-age lower-case crap.

  17. The Walmart logo seems to also be vaguely reminiscent of the Goodson-Todman Productions asterisk that saw use on plenty of game shows over the years but now remains only on The Price is Right.

    As for Steve and Barry’s, the only one I know of around here is in the Everett Mall in Everett WA, where it took over part of the space vacated by the closure of that mall’s Mervyn’s store (the rest of the space got taken over by a health club.) I suspect that even if that store closed, the mall has enough critical mass these days that it would probably do OK without Steve and Barry’s.

  18. Wow…that Walmart logo looks simple and clean but not very creative. They need to come up with some kind of symbol that will be easily recognized, but judging from most recent logo designs and redesigns, most graphic designers can’t be assed to do that anymore. Haha.

    As for Steve and Barry’s…if they sink, that means Crossroads Mall is going down for sure. Somehow it still seems to be staying afloat, but if S&B left, there’d only be one anchor: Dillard’s. Dillard’s would probably jump ship not too long after and that’d be the end of it. Pretty sad to think about.

  19. I don’t think all the new logos are crappy. What about the new Kmart logo? I think that one is nice. It is simple but reverted back to its roots. I hated that stupid K with the cursive writing inside. That HAD to go!

  20. I guess I am the only one here who thinks the new Wal Mart logo looks pretty terrible. I like the font well enough, and I like that they made it into one word, since I never really knew if that dumb star was going to be a hyphen or not, but I just really dislike that star burst thing at the end. It looks very cheap to me, and reminds me of a life insurance company or something rather than a discount retailer. i don’t think people will make a real connection with it as it really doesn’t look like it is supposed to mean anything.

    I think it looks much better without the star burst, because that thing looks a lot like a sphincter to me! Oh well!

  21. The logo is already up on their website. I must say it looks a lot better than it does in that picture, but still isn’t the best. At least the typeface is decent.

  22. The logo looks much better on their website. Like the ‘retro’ blue, and the gold star thing.

    The stores need to utilize those colors. It’ll look VERY retro then, and they’d be ditching their ‘stale’ image that they’ve had with that cool-white logo that’s been used for years.

  23. D’oh the store SIGNAGE, I mean. Don’t want the stores themselves having the same color scheme. That would look tacky.

    My bad

  24. I never liked Steve & Barry’s, the news don’t not manner to me. Old Navy is way better store than Steve & Barry’s.
    I loved the new WalMart logo. Walmart made a great choice using that new font. The new look seems warmer than the look logo. I wonder how the new look will look like in stores.I just can not see the new logo in front of Walmart stores. Is the asterisk purpose to an represent sun?

  25. the new Walmart logo looks like they spent about 50 cents developing it. They seem to have more savvy than that and deep enough pockets to hire a good logo designer. They’re in a tough spot–they need to be somewhat “fashion forward” to broaden their base w/o alientating their core customer. They screwed-up when they tried to sell more fashionable clothing–it sold well in urban areas, but not outside of them. The solution would be more tailored buying, but they don’t seem to grasp how to do that on a large scale, even though Sears & Penney’sdid it for years 9and probably still do). Changing logos is very expensive because of signage, etc. and this seems to suggest that they really don’t know what to do about investing in and addressing their future.

  26. I think Walmart(guess they don’t have the dash/hyphen in the middle of their name anymore) should’ve spent a little more time trying to think of a new logo for themselves. And though I do see why they chose the new ‘softer/warmer’ logo they did, I’m just not a fan of that logo though. It’s not very rememberable and original for my taste.

    As for Steve and Barry’s, though I’ve never been to one of their stores, it seems like to me they ran into financial problems, due to the fact they overexpanded too quickly into too many malls. I will agree with Jonah and other posters that if the company chooses at the very least to close many of their stores(and if it doesn’t quite go out of business for good), it’s probably gonna push more than a few dead + struggling malls it anchors into obsolescence.

  27. damn damn damn & just when we were going to FINALLY get a steve and barry’s store in richmond crap i hope they can get out out of their mess.

  28. I was in the Steve & Barry’s Southridge Mall location today, and they were packing up a lot of inventory and it looked like it was either being transferred to another store, or sent to an off-price store for liquidation. No one in the store would comment on the merchandise’s destination. I hope this isn’t the beginning of a downward spiral for Southridge. It’s sister mall, Northridge, went from booming to dead in a five year period beginning in 1995.

  29. Not suprised they won’t comment. They’ve probably been told to stay tight-lipped. If they’re packing stuff up to be sent back out, that’s a good sign that they’re pulling out.

    I’d hate to see Southridge Mall go down the crapper. It’s a nice mall and it’s not so ‘chic’ that I wouldn’t dare step into it (Northbrook Court or Oakbrook Center in IL), but also not so ruled by the rowdy teenage crowds (Mayfair, Brookfield Sq.) that makes the experience a little less enjoyable.

    Simon needs to offer up a good chunk of money for the entire plot of land that building sits on and give it over to a higher tier department store.

  30. That’s a bizarre new direction for Walmart. By the way, the font in the previous Shopko logo is called “Crillee”.

  31. Matt, I agree. I don’t see Southridge dying though. However, Simon should work on getting Milwaukee an higher end department store again, with Field’s gone now. Something along the lines of a Nordstrom or a Von Maur might do well there.

  32. The problem is that the mall, in its valid desperation configured the space by putting Linen’s and things upstairs ans Steve & Barry’s downstair, and then took a piece of the building and made it kind of an outparcel to house Cost Plus World Market. It would be nice to get a Federated Department store brand in that space, and push Cost Plus World Market into the parking lot outparcel in the two story now vacant former Sears Home Furnishings (and then Leath Furniture) store. Of course, that would geographically put them right next to Pier One. That would be different.

    Southridge would never get a Nordstrom or Von Maur, because Simon just doesn’t put money into their malls. They either let them die like Machesney Park in Rockford, or they dump them right away and let someone else build them up like Fox River Mall in Appleton, WI.(Sold to Center Corp/General Growth Properties after just a few months of being open).

  33. i think we will lose a lot if steve and barrys goes thay have been willing to go places others wont i do agree that some of there stores are way to big and thay wood do better in snaller stores the new store at regency mall is probably the right size to make money with.
    as for wal mart i know manny of you dont like them but as the fact that i work there i have to look at them differently than you do it is a realy messed up place it has a lot of problems the new logo is nice and fits the image we are trying to get. but hear is a funny i said something to my boss about the logo change and he did not even know about it and that is not the first time that this has hapened ware i had found things out on the net before stores are even told. ther is a lot of internal problems with the co sometimes i think thay are there own worst enamy
    john gallo

  34. I definitely agree with CoryTJ about Simon-owned malls. It seems like unless a mall is a very high top-performing mall for the company(i.e. Orland Square in the SW Chicago ‘burbs, or the Houston Galleria), that not much is invested into their malls at all(save for TVs that show advertising). I don’t like how Lincolnwood Town Center seems to have been going slowly downhill for years, and that they don’t seem to be aggressive enough in attracting decent tenants for that mall(also evidenced too by the fact that in recent years, many new stores that’ve opened in this mall are cheap mom-and-pop stores that aren’t of any use to me, and I don’t like those new advertising TVs in the food court). I guess in fairness, I should be thankful they haven’t let it totally gone done the crapper yet, though it has been treading in that direction too much for me.

    As for Southridge Mall, it’d be nice if Simon would sell that mall, like they did with Alton Square. It’s too bad for a mall that opened as a Taubman-designed mall(and I believe may still be the biggest mall in Wisconsin, though I’m not sure), that Simon hasn’t done more to keep that mall competitive with other Milwaukee-area malls.

  35. I loved Steve & Barry’s in high school- I still have a lot of their shirts (which amazingly enough have held up better than those costing 3 times as much) , but admittedly wearing some of their stuff now would just scream “white trash” a bit too much.

  36. Allan,

    Interestingly, Simon still touts Southridge as the largest mall in Wisconsin, but this just cannot be possible. I can walk that mall from one end to the other, both levels in mere minutes.I mean, we have Fox River Mall in Appleton which is just a behemoth, with five anchors (Macy’s, JCPenney, Sears, Younker’s, and Target) with new stores coming in all the time. They’re not land-locked, and they just keep adding on! It’s one level, but it never ends. People literally get lost in this place.

    Then there is Mayfair in Milwaukee, with its two huge levels, albeit only three anchors (Macy’s, Crate and Barrel, and Boston Store), but the span of the mall is huge with every corridor occupied, and it has some nice big box tenants as well as specialty high-end national boutiques. Brookfield Square is in the midst of its second renovation, pulling in new stores that are brand new to the Milwaukee (and Wisconsin) market. It is humungous. I emailed Simon to kind of challenge their claim, and of course I did not get a reply. I honestly didn’t expect one from the “care-less” Simon Group.

    With General Growth really taking care of their malls and expanding them, I don’t know how Simon is able to continue claiming this number one spot. If they were truly the largest, then they wouldn’t have needed to split the old Gimbels/Fields/Pranges/Younkers store into three B level stores: Linen’s, Steve and Barry’s, and World Market, in the goofy configuration. They would have anchors begging to get in.

    It’s too bad, because this mall is still nice. But Simon is like the kiss of death. Even to successful malls…that is, unless in the top tier.

  37. The mall directory on Simon’s site is pretty awful. It’s like they scanned in an old directory.

  38. oh & your right about the older sears logo does anyone remember the sears towns that they used to run. here in virginia there were two that i know off one was on west broad street in richmond & there was another one just north of the civic centre in roanoke, & by the way they are exprementing with in at least some store having the old logo on some of their new sears stores.

  39. Who would have thought a new logo would generate so much buzz? Raise the stars and strips and import more cheap crap from China. One nation, under goods. I do feel a lot better about them taking advantage of their employees and making business decisions dictated by special-interest groups instead of common sense. I think the new logo is working now.

  40. Was at Wal Mart yesterday – the new Star logo is already starting to show up on several in store displays. I wonder if they are going to change out existing signage on stores, or if they are going to pull a K-Mart, and have stores with still signed with the last two or three logos?

  41. Not impressed with the new Walmart logo and signage. It’s too 1970s for my tastes, not to mention that orange is my least favorite color. They can do all the cosmetic changes they want but I still think they’re a greedy soul-sucking company.

    As for S&B, I’m not too surprised about the news. I kinda like S&B cuz their clothes are inexpensive but a the same time I think having too many stores (and big ones at that) hurts their profits and in turn ruins their product quality. I can tell that the quality has gone down in the past year. I have a few shirts I bought from them 2 years ago and they hold up real well compared to a shirt that I bought at the same S&B store 4 months ago that’s gotten stretched out and faded.

  42. It hasn’t been mentioned here, but on other boards, posters have noted the similarity between the new Walmart logo and the logo for Wallpaper magazine. The resemblance is uncanny.

  43. Ah ha! Does anyone smell a lawsuit? I remember how Quark had a very similar logo to the Scottish Arts Council. They soon changed it.

  44. now that the managment has heard about the new logo it was said in my store that yes the signs will be changed thay will start this fall and all new stores from that point on will have the signs to begin with.

  45. There was also the time NBC spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 70s to come up with a new logo, only to find out it was basically the same as Nebraska Public Television’s.

    I don’t like the new logo. Seems just part of the trend of abstract designs next to a lowercase word that way too many new corporate logos seem to have these days.

  46. S & B having financial problems does not surprise me. Like with Starbucks, it’s a case of overexpansion. (Who needs Starbucks stores one block away from each other?) I personally never bought anything from S & B because it all looked like crap to me, but my mother-in-law raved about it and bought my daughter several shirts from there for school (she was in Kindergarten this year). They were $7 a piece, but shrank quickly and started ripping by the snap buttons. If I were to shop there, I only would if I wanted “trendy” clothes and didn’t care how well they held up.

    I don’t shop at Walmart much because Target is closer to my house. The quality of the clothes matches up to the price. I mostly miss The Children’s Place, which pulled out of my local mall sometime last fall. (Interestingly, many people did not realize they had closed until I mentioned something to them.) I live close to an upscale mall with a Nordstrom’s and Sak’s but five years ago, a “lifestyle center” was built catty-corner and took some of the mall’s stores.

  47. Based on this post on S & B news,I visited the store at Menlo Park Mall, the store was almost devoid of shoppers. Most of the clothes looked cheep & you wouldn’t want to be caught dead wearing them. I say 1 year until they go chapter 7.

  48. I remember reading once in a book about walmart that the hyphen was replaced by the star in 1992 in memory of Sam Walton after his death.

  49. Personally, I think Walmart is trying to capture the “Labelscar Look”! 😉

  50. From what I’ve observed in Steve & Barry’s stores, I think they are in the midst of packing the merchandise up to:

    1. Distribute to their most profitable locations where their stores are geographically close enough to make it cost effective

    2. Sending the remaining stock to an off price retailer. You will most likely see their stuff in regional Marshall’s and TJ Maxx locations.

    The concept has long outlived its usefulness. $10 pleather letterman’s jackets were never a great idea, but they were the perfect Christmas gift to give to that unspecial someone for whom you were obligated to buy a gift. After a few Christmas seasons, it stopped being a novel idea. Everyone knew exactly what they were getting after the word got out: a cheap piece of crap.

  51. That reminds me to take pictures…I still need to get pictures of the local mall for a Labelscar submission. The Steve & Barry’s, an old Foley’s, the whole aura of the place, and, if I’m lucky, a rare glimpse of Chuck Norris.

  52. My take on S&B

    When they were in big malls and college towns selling T-Shirts, sweatshirts & jeans, they were fine and the stuff they bought lasted. When they went into every little town selling business casual clothing that would rip after 3 washings as well as the core stuff they got into trouble in a hurry. When I saw a S&B in towns like Geneva NY that didn’t even have a mall, I knew it would be over sooner rather than later but didn’t want to admit it.

  53. i think the new walmart logo is rather unimaginative as well. it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that their ad dept is trying to rip off the zayre asterisk. I mean, can you really trust anything walmart corporate says?

    i also agree with the other posters regarding the kmart logo. i just did a google image search for “kmart logo,” and i started giggling. my screen was filled with red “Ks.” seriously. hysterical.

    lastly, i have never been to a steve and barry’s, but from the posts here, the stores, and the products sold there sound pretty crappy, and shouldn’t be a surprise that the corporation is going down the toilet.

  54. WNBC TV reports that Steve & Berry’s may file for bankruptsy protection as early as today.

  55. Wow, that’s an amazing downturn from good to the worse, if S&B does choose to file for bankruptcy as of today.

    Thanks for responding to my post about Milwaukee-area malls, CoryTJ. That was an interesting insight into how local malls there are operating like. Two questions, now that I think of it: 1) Wasn’t Bayshore Mall turned into a hybrid indoor mall/lifestyle shopping center, or am I slightly off on what I heard about its renovation? 2) Brookfield Square and Mayfair Mall are both owned by General Growth, right?

  56. Brookfield Square Mall is owned by CBL Properties, apparently. Mayfair Mall is GGP-owned.

  57. Hi Allan,

    To answer your questions:

    1. Bayshore. this was a dying mall owned by Corrigan Properties. It is located in the oddly affluent are of Whitefish Bay, but where it meets Silver Spring Drive. After Northridge closed, Corrigan saw the writing on the wall for this mall. Although it had national chains at the time, the mall began to shift and attract the Northridge demographic. Kudos to Corrigan for taking corrective action immediately. When they unveiled plans to turn the mall into an outdoor concept like Oakbrook Mall in the Chicago market, natioinal chains signed on and even took occupancy in the mall before the revovation. Now Bayshore is complete. It kept anchors Sears and Boston Store, and renovated the interior of the mall. But now there are stores facing the outside of the center, and an entire “village” was created, even housing an LA Fitness and Trader Joes upscale Grocery (ironically, it is owned by Aldi and I think it is funny that these “affluent” people don’t realize it).

    Here is the odd thing about Bayshore. It draws the local neighborhood clientelle, but also many of the same demographics that Northridge pulled in, and we all know what happened to Northridge. It went from being like Mall of America to Akron’s Rolling Acres almost overnight. The odd part is that the same teens that are seen as being responsible for the demise of Northridge, don’t seem to be bothering the folks at Bayshore. Nothing is even acknowledged. For now the center seems to be thriving. But insiders who manage stores in the mall report less than stellar sales figures, despite the mall’s “upper eschelon” hype. Read: the people in this area are wealthy, but so tight with their money. This is just my opinion, but I think when the novelty of this outdoor concept wears thin, Milwaukee will have another Grand Avenue Mall on our hands. Cameron’s Steakhouse closed after 10 months.

    2. Mayfair is owned by General Growth. AND they stole the incredibly talented Steve Smith to manage the mall. And boy did Mayfair blossom. I wonder how all that sage green decor will translate in future years. The other thing Mayfair did is incorporate all these different facades on the outside of the mall for many of its tenants. I just wonder how these trends are going to hold up over time. I could be very wrong, but I just kind of wince a bit when these malls take such a trend directed approach. What’s in today may be out tomorrow. And sooner than one would think.

    3. Brookfield Square is owned by CBL, who also owns East Towne and West Towne malls in Madison. They did the same type of revovation as Mayfair with the ultra trendy hodge podge village look to the outside of the mall. CBL did a fantastic job of renovating both Madison malls, and in fact if they hadn’t, East Towne would have deteriorated into a dead mall. I think part of the advantage of owning several centers is that they can strike a deal with retailers. I.E., a package deal: you take the hot location in the busier mall, but you also have to occupy the less favorable mall. Note: this is the second significant renovation for this mall in the last decade, with the latest remodel being the more important.

    The fear with Brookfield Square is that it will now start to cannibalize Mayfair. Mayfair has received a lot of bad press in terms of gand type activity, which again in my opinion is extremely exaggerated. It is common knowledge that when Northridge closed, many of the teenagers decided to catch the bus to Mayfair. Our local media is just heinous. There is little going on here in Milwaukee so they literally “invent” news. Channel 12 for example reported a tornado touching down at the airport a few months back, when no such tornado even came close to touching down anywhere in the entire metro area. Locals laughed at them. This is the type of shitty press, excuse me, that can shutter a mall in a mere couple years. With Brookfield Square so close by in proximity and given that they signed many unique tenants, this may spell trouble for Mayfair. The only saving grace for both Mayfair and Brookfield Square may be those few unique restaurants or outparcels at each mall. But honestly, there is just too much of this upscale marketing for such a small area (not only the malls but all these ridiculously priced upscale trendy Wendy grocery stores). They are all targeting the same consumer and fighting for the same dollar. Someone has to lose the fight.

  58. CNN is now reporting that S & B filled for bankruptcy today. How long before the store closings begin?

  59. Creg,
    I give it 1 year, then you can stick a fork in them, S & B will be done.


    I have a quick question, I thaught that Bayshore was owned by Steiner Associates of Easton Town Center fame, or at least in a joint venture. Please correct me if i’m wrong.


  60. Sean, you are correct, but it was Corrigan who got the ball rolling. Then they unloaded Bayshore. I’m certainly not “The Great Kreskin” butI give it five years before it starts unraveling. My prediction is that in ten years it will be really showing signs of suffering (Boston Store typically hangs on until the very last possible exit strategy point), and Sears will be gone. In twelve years, we’ll have a ghost town like Grand Avenue, with an occasional bit of media hoopla about some insignificant thing that they will do to “reinvent the mall”. Check back here in twelve and we will see if my predictions came true.

  61. CoryTJ,

    Can you back that up with some evidence? The town center format is the long term trend & is causing malls to be rebuilt with out roofs, AKA the lifestyle center.

  62. Sean,

    Let me start out by saying, this is one instance in which I hope I am dead wrong. And I apologize if it seemed like I was touting my opinion as the gospel truth.

    I really just offered up my hypothesis as opinion. When it comes to backing it up I guess I’m relying on history and intuition. I believe that one thing we Americans have always flirted with is novelty. Let me explain. Most cities started out with modest downtowns that grew with the region. People came to identify with proprietors as much as they did with the businesses they owned. It was a model built on personal relationships. Somewhere along the line, someone said, “Gee it is kind of inclement weather out here. Wouldn’t it be great if we could park our car in one spot and do all our shopping in one place, under one roof?” And so was born the climate-controlled mall. Apparently, legend has it that the first climate controlled mall was my home town’s sad little mall, Valley Fair, which was just leveled this year.

    The problem with the malls is that they became victims of their own design. We loved them because they were novel, and the way we started doing business was far less personal. The deficiencies really aren’t so much the fault of the mall design, but rather of the stores. Since the mall environment didn’t really allow for personal interaction, stores started to rely on “branding” themselves. And it was very effective. But as a concept grew, it started to become less novel. Malls across American became nothing more than cookie cutter reproductions of one another because they house the same stores. How many times have you been through a mall only to think to yourself, “Oh, isn’t this just great? Another Bath and Body Works?” I mean really, after a few Christmas seasons, how many bottles of peppermint foot cream does one need? And the stores, bless them, try to reinvent themselves. Using the above mentioned example, they may change the scents from Pumpkin Spice one season to Vanilla & Lavender the next season, but it’s not really that much different. A concept might have a good run, but eventually it runs it’s course if it doesn’t tap into what the customer really wants and present the consumer with a constant influx of novelty. Think about Chess King. Not so good at overcoming the 80’s trend, right?

    So, every year a few businesses shake out of the mall for the above mentioned reasons, or poor management, or a marketing mistake. The reasons are endless. And remember, this model doesn’t rely on personal interaction so it tries to “invent” a relationship with the customer. Why do you think you are bombarded with “surveys” aimed at collecting your email address, and “customer loyalty programs”? This happens because they must fabricate some type of identity with you. They need to get into your head so they know what direction to take. This is probably why Wilson’s is banking on their new handbag concept and nixed the idea of selling leather jackets.

    Americans have become bored with malls. The needed something different. And like history, everything old becomes new again. What reminded shoppers of their former downtowns laden with specialty shops? Well, my guess is the new “lifestyle concept” is trying to fill the void, and it has in many areas. We’ve simply turned malls literally inside out. And in some cases when the tenants started leaving the mall, the only stores remaining were the anchors. Department stores, by virtue, are able to reinvent several vignettes more readily, and hence keep the novelty coming. So, what we’ve now tried to do with the “lifestyle center” is “keep the best of it, re-do the rest of it”. Off came the roofs between anchors, bulldoze the dead interior betweem them, and viola we have a new little village ( the proposed changes to Machesney Park Mall, and Bayshore “Towne Center” to some extent, are good examples of this).

    My opinion is just because someone is willing to do it, doesn’t make it a dandy idea. Remember when developers decided it was a fantastic idea to plop these malls right in the middle of our downtowns? Appleton tried to do it to save its downtown. Failure! Milwaukee did it. Failure! I believe Wausau and Stevens Point also tried it. I believe both failures! Not sure. I’m sure aware there are some limited examples of success out there like Toronto’s Eaton Place, or maybe Houston Galleria (?…going by memory during a visit) but my point is that these downtown malls were just really never a great fit for certain communities in which they were placed where “trend” was the impetus. People came, they saw, they got bored. People didn’t have time to shop on their lunch hours. And after a long day, they just wanted to go home; not shop where they work. And in many cities, downtowns are just not shopping destinations. Yes, there are exceptions.

    So now we have the fabulous “town center” concept. And I’m kind of viewing it like the downtown malls that were not always properly planned. We’re putting them up anywhere and everywhere, to try to decimate a former failure. Will it work? Time will tell. Do I think so? Not long term. Sorry.

    And from what I’m hearing in places like Bayshore (and I listen to the district managers who are responsible for sales figures, and I read IBD and retail publications) I don’t think I’m way off the mark. The figures are starting to come in. And they aren’t nearly as good as was anticipated. AND we are not that far into the cycle. This concept is still novel!

    Somewhere along the line, many years from now maybe, someone will decide that their ass is getting chapped by the winter winds and gee, wouldn’t it be great if we still had malls like in the good ole days.

    I guess this could be a forum in and of itself. What does anyone else think out there? Am I onto something or am I really completely wrong?

  63. You make good points CoryTJ, I think that the lifestyle center or mall that doesn’t have mix uses AKA housing & or office space wont survive long term. That is why Steiner Associates build those types of projects, so they don’t get caught in the trap you discribe.

  64. Let’s see….there was a discussion going in the Palm Beach Mall thread about this, but lifestyle centers are pretty ambiguous as best. Some really are like outdoor malls of old, and some are glorified strip malls, complete with haphazard parking lots and random roads going through them. Worse, some lifestyle centers run completely contrary to the “let’s not air condition the hallways thus saving the environment”, because the stores open right out into the concourse with no doors, obviously creating an obscene amount of energy loss. The Shops at La Cantera in San Antonio is an example.

    CoryTJ, in fact, just about three posts ago there was something on the Galleria (which I wrote, btw) so you might want to see that.

    The world of retail is always changing. New chains emerge, old chains die. Blaming a shrinking economy doesn’t change. Gas was high in the 1970s, yet malls thrived and more got built. Conversely, gas is high today, and lifestyle centers are thriving and getting built. If people grumble about loss of chain stores, why do they think mom-and-pop stores are even worse? I did a piece on that recently as well, and I even quoted “Matt from WI” on the Sawmill Square posting.

    Has the luxury of the Internet caused brick-and-mortar establishments to fail? I would say no. Print catalogs predated the Internet by almost a century, for one thing. Apple, for instance, which has a successful line of upscale computer boutiques, so to speak, had an online Apple store that predated the retail store by four years. Eddie Bauer is relaunching a fleet of retail stores, and even the venerable Discovery Channel still has airport stores, so there is still hope that Discovery Channel will come back to malls.

    Why is population bigger than ever, and yet there are less stores than before? And why are we complaining? Why don’t we just launch a new concept and go from there? Retail is a very complicated thing.

    Sean, I was actually considering thinking of starting a Proboards forum for Labelscar, so comment threads don’t get way out of control (may I cite Freehold Raceway Mall?) and so on. What do you think of that? Would Caldor or Prange approve?

    I’m sorry if I was rambling, but those are my thoughts. What do you think?

  65. Jonah,

    I like that, infact I posted a similar idea on the Freehold page. There should be a thred for discussing development ideas, that is why the Freehold thred semes so out of control. Caldor said he would do just that, see what you can do to move this foward.


  66. this is just my opinion but bayshore is wonderfull and while it has its upscle customers it has far less of them as mayfair dose. it is right on a line ware the inercity north side hits the wealthy northsuberbs the reason i feel for the teens not being a much of a problem as at northridge because it is outside not as much af a hang out for them to cold in winter and to hot in summer. it has everything almost a contained city you probably could work live and play there without ever leaving. the restaurant that closed carmans stakehouse was given several horble reviews by restaurant reviewers and called by the vary frugel milwaukee costomer to exspensive. but all the other restaurants seem to do fine and also remember the ancors work aginst bayshore thay can be found all over milwaukee sears -3 other locations including much larger stores at brookfield and southridge. kohls i beleve ther are at least 12 othres in metro milwaukee and boston store with 4 other locations . if you go to mayfair you get the only macys the only creat and barrel and many othre inline stores that are only at mayfair. and i use my mother as a judge she now drives from racine to bayshore more than ever but says she likes the outside and likes the boston store there she told me thay are stocking only the best at that store and says its vary simmiler to there bookfield store she dose not feel that the boston store at mayfair is carying as highend of items as the other two do.
    i also have a question to through out there how about midtown center it is the first time i ever saw a life style concep aimed at a lower end inercity customer i think it looks great and i think that if the old capitol court could not last that building was in such bad shape if it had to go im glad that it was redone so well also i know menny of you hate wal-mart but i give them high marks for locating at mid town when even target had pulled out of capitol court and thay also dont seem to have a problem with teens gone wild at mid town the one vary good thing with the outside trend

  67. Several thoughts:

    1.) Retail growth has outstripped population growth since the 70s. Its inevitable that contraction should occur.

    2.) Malls have evolved and become more upscale in their composition. Go back to the 60s and 70s and malls, even fairly upscale ones were filled with cheap, but respectable stores like Richman Bros, Thom McAn, Kinney Shoe, etc. and many malls had a Woolworth or occasionally some other variety chain. Malls also started out with more local and regional retailers. National chains and stores with greater sales/square foot (often more upscale) eventually supplanted the earlier stores. While most of the lower end mall chains are gone, their niche came to be filled by big box and off-price retailers, who typically did not locate in malls.

    3.) Malls did become very interchangable even back in the 70s. The greater viability of super regionals with many anchors became evident even then and these malls have tended to outlast others unless their market areas have developed declines in their economics. Moreover, mant metros had new super-regionals 8esp. in the 90s) which hurt or even killed previously very viable malls from earlier eras.

    So basically, malls gradually priced out a big segment of their regular market, new stores evolved to serve those shoppers that were often close to a mall but rarely in it. Smaller malls began to suffer disadvantages in terms of choice (given that the range of choices was narrowing to begin with) and more vulnerability to economic decline in their market areas. Malls also seem particularly vulnerable to bad publicity–years ago, news media avoided mentioning problems at malls, now they delight in gang fights, etc. even if malls are basically very safe on a day-to-day basis.

    Mall developers have discoverd what white elephants malls easily become. Malls are difficult to convert into anything else and very inflexible physical spaces for major makeovers, beyond enlargements. Developers probably also noticed the viability of many long ttime c.1950/early 60ss strips in areas with fairly decent demographics. Many of these strips reinvented themselves with big boxes. From this and new urbanism ideas in neighborhood development came the lifestyle center by way of the “power center” (it’s earlier more discountish ancestor).

    We have too much retail, even in growing metros. A lot of it is destined to die. Where the demographics are decent some of it can be recast as something else, but much of it probably will and should wind up as something else, if only for the sake of local tax bases.

  68. Trader Joe’s is NOT owned by Aldi.

  69. Technically, it is owned by a trust set up by German billionaire, Theo Albrecht, one of the two brothers behind Aldi. Albrecht has owned the company since 1979. The two divisions are run independently from what I understand, with TJ having franchises. Look it up. What makes you say it isn’t? Just curious as to what you are referencing. I’d like to learn if I am missing something.

  70. I pulled this from

    A Successful Formula
    Now 77 and retired, Coulombe sold Trader Joe’s in 1979 to privately held German supermarket giant Aldi. The German owners have let the chain run more or less autonomously, keeping many of the original strategies in place.

  71. While a forum would be a nice idea, the one caveat to it would be….it would need moderators. I’m sure myself and everyone else would have lots to discuss and hypothesize as we watch the ever-changing world of retailing….its past, current state, and where its headed. However, you also got so-called ‘trolls’ who like to stir things up and get the board’s users all in a tizzy.

    I can only imagine all the work Caldor and PrangeWay put into this blog as it is. Throw a forum on the pile and it would be overkill unless people would be willing to keep everything in check and running smoothly.

    Even so, with the right folks keeping a hawk’s-eye out for what’s happening, it would keep the comment pages here less cluttered-up and from going off-topic.

  72. I could be a moderator on the forum. If things get out of control, then we simply shut it down. However, some of the comments on Labelscar are occasional troll/spam/unwanted political comments, some even made by people on this very forum thread (coughs loudly).

    Rich, the retail world may have outstripped growth, but what boggles me is that when malls die, they get replaced by more retail! Why can’t an old mall be replaced with something more useful, like a park or something?

  73. Old malls do get replaced by other things. The Denver area led the way with this. Also, the scale of retail replacements is often smaller—a Wal-Mart instead of a multi-anchor 100 store mall seems common. The large strip of my youth was recently cut by about a third, with the old space being replaced by housing. Another thing that happens is that they turn into museum pieces, like the Avondale Mall which was near my home in Atlanta and which has lain idel for a decade. Euclid Square Mall outside of Cleveland is empty except for a Dillard outlet. Randall Park Mall seems well on its way to becoming mostly nothing. It and Euclid Square are good examples of malls that never should have been built, along with their contemporary, North Towne in Toledo. Southgate adequately served the Randall Park area, while Shoregate, Richmond Mall, and Severance all provided coverage for the Euclid Square area. North Towne served the demographically weakest area of Toldeo and couldn’t compete with Franklin Park.

  74. Lets keep 1 rule,

    KEEP POLITICAL VIEWS OFF these future forems, UNLESS they are related to a retail problem that is being solved here.

    I say this because on a airline blog I visit, quite a few comments end up being political rants that become atacks on various posters, I just don’t want that here.

    What do you say Jonah,

    Any Guesses how long S & B has until they throgh in the sweat shirt? I say 1 year

  75. No, no “Unlesses”, because you’ve used that card before. So no.

    I passed by a Steve & Barry’s at the mall today. It occupies a wing as an in-line store, but almost as large as a regular department store. The Waldenbooks vacancy at the mall has been taken care of, but there are still plenty of vacancies and it still sports a ceiling similar to Universal Mall.

  76. Jonah,

    Why are you so anoyed at that idea, I don’t like it that much either but you have to be constructive & not atack others when they post.

    evidently politics may seep in at some point, such as what a city council is doing & how that helps or herts a malls survival. I didn’t mean ones own political viewpoints.

    Jonah, I hope that explains things.

  77. Politics, espeically this year, just brings out the nastiest in people. I have to agree with Jonah on this one. Unless it’s tied to retail, it’s something that’s best to be left out. It causes too many flame wars. I’m all for lively debate, but it’s gotta stick to the topic at hand.

  78. And to swing this back on topic. I give S&B a bit less than a year. I say after this holiday season, it’s all over. They’ve already declared Ch 11. I see some casualties before the holidays. They’ll re-evaluate their situation during the holiday period (which is shaping up to be the worst in a long time the way things are going), then afterwards in early 2009…..POOF! No more S&B.

  79. I have a couple questions:
    First, it doesn’t seem possible that comp store sales could be up 15% over LY in this economy. Does anyone else think these numbers are blantantly skewed? Second, their press release makes it sound like landlords did not honor contracts to reimburse them for building costs. Have mall owners actually promised payments to S & B to cover their renovation costs? Is this typical? Can someone explain this to me?

    I copied this from Steve & Barry’s website:

    2008 continued the long history of growth at Steve & Barry’s. In a very difficult environment for retail apparel sales, January to May 2008 brought a 70 percent increase in total sales compared to the same period in 2007, a 15 percent increase in comparable store sales, and a 25 percent increase in average store sales. Thousands of dedicated people worked around the clock to achieve these results.

    Unfortunately, in the current credit and economic environment, this has not been enough. High costs of materials and fuel prices have increased our cost of goods and cost of operating. At the same time, our customers are not in a position to pay higher prices, impacting our operating margins. Our customers are feeling the pain of high food and gas prices and declining home values, and many of them are being forced to shop closer to their homes and cut back on discretionary purchases. The generally poor environment for apparel retailers has reduced funding for our suppliers, landlords, and for our company. Since mid-2007, difficult credit markets have caused delays in store openings and landlord reimbursements for store-opening expenditures advanced by the company which have created cash shortages. The Company invested substantially more in capital expenditures last year than the amounts reimbursed, and unfortunately, the Company has not yet had an opportunity to fully realize the planned returns from these investments.

  80. I think S&B closing before the holidays is right on point. I went over to Oakland Mall (Troy,MI) to shop and I passed by the S&B there. Virtually empty of customers and the merchandise in the store was a mess. Clothes were literally sprawled on the floor and the employees seemed to care less. Not a good sign.

  81. Matt from WI,

    That is exactly what I was trying to say about politics on the threds here, if it is NOT corporate related KEEP IT OFF.

    NO MORE!

    Cory TJ,

    The S & B press release makes no sence, unless we have a retail Enron on our hands.

    Mall companies give money to retailers depending on what type of store it is. For example because S & B is a clothing retailer that has been expanding rapidly, the REIT’s have been giving out money to help with such things as store rennavations & the like. On the other hand, if you are a music retailer you wont get much money from the REIT’s at all for rennavation because that is a dieing retail segment.

    It is a fair statement to say the moneys allowcated for S & B’s stores by the mall opperators are as good as gone.


  82. According to this news story, S&B will either be sold or liquidated sooner rather than later, perhaps as soon as the end of July. They do not have any cash nor have they been able to arrange any debtor-in-possession financing. The fact that no one will give them DIP $$$ is a very bad sign.,0,7593958.story

  83. The punchline for S&B seems to be that they are swimmining in debt and even with expansion of their business, they can’t get out from under it. They probably are having troble raising working capital to pay suppliers.

  84. re: Trader Joe’s and Aldi. You answered your own question. Trader Joe’s is owned by a trust set up by one of the two brothers who started Aldi. Aldi has two separate divisions, and the brother whose trust owns TJ’s is not connected with the Aldi division that owns the U.S. stores. I’m not saying there’s no connection, but it’s clearly erroneous to state that “Aldi owns Trader Joe’s.” Their connection is not like Safeway and Vons or Kroger and Ralphs.

  85. Since I’ve noticed so many entries on Wisconsin Malls, Regency Mall in Racine just built a brand new tenant space for Steve and Barry’s which took up several thousand square feet with several tenants being relocated. Also a few years back they did the same for Linens and Things. Now a whole wing will be empty will the anchor at the end of that wing being an aging JC Penny. Not to mention the “kiss of death” anchor Burlington Coat Factory that is currently being built in a former Yonker’s. What is to become of Rengency Mall, another dead mall perhaps?

  86. Check Plain Vanilla Shell’s link on the right, they have a story from the AP on Steve & Berry’s. It is what many of us suspected. They are on life support & in a coma. They also talk about where the money came from, & where it went. Most importenly, the article reveals the questional accounting practices employed leading to there demise.

  87. While I think the new logo is rather generic, I would’ve preferred the star logo to the right of the Walmart name rather than on the left.

  88. I miswrote my previous statement and meant that the star should’ve been on the left rather than on the right.

  89. I like the star better on the right… it’s different

    And those earlier in this thread saying that the logo redesigns for walmart or payless or whatever are too “periodic” or “too 21st century”, well, these new logos are retro in the making. I’m sure when the original Sears logo was around it was too periodic or maybe the Caldor Rainbow…

    Walmart hasn’t completely implemented the new logo yet, the old one still appears on the tv commercials, but the new star appears in the bottom right corner of the screen for the first few seconds of each commercial… Hmm, is this subliminal advertising?

    Sorry to change the subject back to it’s original state =p

  90. if thay had used a star to the left and mabe even the right macys wood probably sued them for copping there logo- as for walmart thay told us the new logo will not be in full use untill the pre holiday advertising so i think thay mean around october by that statment. but the comunication on the inside is bad if i want to know what is going on i check the web first its almost alwas out befor thay tell employees

  91. I’m not aware of Macy’s even trademarking that star, and I don’t think it would infringe on their trademark because the Walmart star doesn’t even look like Macy’s.

  92. well acording to their page on wikipedia, steve and barrys could either be given a cash infusion by sears or the whole chan could be sold to sears outright.

  93. “It’s reported that Sears may be interested in buying some or all of Steve
    & Barry’s brands”

    Just the brands not the stores themselves, which are still closing.

  94. Is Sears really in a position to try to acquire anything right now, brands, stores, or otherwise? With only a billion in liquid capital, I would think they would be better served concentrating on their core holdings: The struggling Kmart Chain, and the identity-confused Sears.

    I’ve seen the rollout of the new Kmart format, and while I compliment them on the new Kmart logo and consistent red color scheme, something about their “internet cafe” area just doesn’t look contemporary. It’s like they took a modern concept and retroactively “time warped” it back to a really bland, uncoordinated, dare I say “cheap” look. It’s as if they had these old spaces left in the backs or sides of their stores, once occupied by Little Caesar’s or their own cafeterias, and they felt they just HAD to fill them with something food related. If you’re not going to invest the time to research current trends, don’t venture in that direction!

    And the red pleather chairs in the electronics department clearly do NOT belong there. Do they honestly think that consumers are suddenly going to change their patterns so drastically as to make Kmart their destination for “comfort” and “socializing”. They haven’t EARNED that niche like Starbucks has. The brands are not upscale enough yet. That identity hasn’t been formed yet. It just looks like another cheesy Kmart attempt to play “catch up”. They started out with the right idea, but kept all that infamous Kmart quality FORMICA CRAP FIXTURING! WHY?!!!!

    Now the new Sears retro “Duluth” prototype is a step in the right direction. They should invest their capital to strengthen their brand identity. No one is going to shop at Sears to get Steve and Barry’s merchandise. It didn’t work when they bought the Structure Brand from Limited Group, and oh so many countless other “dead” brands that were completely used up by the retailers who unloaded them on Sears.

    Buying and part of Steve and Barry’s is about as noteworthy as Sears old “Goolagong” line of apparel. Yeah, that was a real hit.

    Anyone else think that the flirtation Steve and Barry’s brands is just irresponsible?

  95. I couldn’t say it better, Cory TJ you are so on the money.

  96. Hey guys, in your opinion, what other retailers do you expect to fall during the coming months?

  97. Jake:

    There are two retailers that get my vote for most likely to fall:

    #1 Ross Stores

    Why does anyone shop at these dumps. The merchandise is the same product that’s been at Marshall’s/TJ Maxx many months if not years earlier, only its in more beat up condition at Ross Stores. The stores themselves look downright dirty. The light bulbs are always half burned out, and the ones that work are covered in dust. The floor tiles are many different “stained” colors and look like they were remnants left over after a flood. The signage is one step above hand written Sharpie markers on 8.5 X 11 sheets of paper. The racks are overcrowded, oftentimes bowing, with no sense of merchandising to be found in the store. That they remain open is a “retail miracle” to me.

    #2 Restoration Hardware

    But for completely different reasons than those I cited at Ross stores. They were recently acquired by Catterton Partners, under the direction of the company’s CEO, and a private equity firm, Tower Three. The infusion had to come in order for the company to be saved after several quarters of multi-million dollar losses. Only, under Friedman’s direction, I don’t think anything will change. Restoration Hardware is not forward-looking, nor are they fiscally responsible. Let me elaborate. Their inventory never changes. It has been the same sku’s every year, sometimes in different colors, but nevertheless the same. The have done nothing to research or source new product in the past eight years! And when they get into a trend-directed or holiday product, they don’t get out of it quickly enough. I’ll offer this one example among many: for the past eight years Restoration Hardware has promoted the same Musical Instrument Christmas Ornaments. Newsflash: Anyone who wanted them has already bought them. How do I know this? Because every year they are marking them out of stock (MOS’ing them, as they say in the trade) in FEBRUARY. That’s right. They are donating them to charity. Instead of marking them down the day after Christmas to 50-75% off like everyone else, they sit on the merchandise. It never goes to 90%. They just donate it.

    Their lighting is showing up everywhere online from to for a fraction of the price. Their furniture collections have been knocked off by anyone who can press veneer over rubberwood; even Value City for heaven’s sake, and they didn’t do a bad job of it either. Much of their merchandise is showing up at off-price retailers like Tuesday Morning and TJ Maxx, and God forbid Ross Stores. Why? Because they were so deep in it and didn’t get out of it quickly enough. And now the company is in a cash crunch. Even their catalog division did not make it’s projected sales.

    My prediction Christmas 2008: Tin plates, amaryllis bulb kits, the same cranberry candles, ball and jack sets, mantle stocking holders, overpriced bedding in the same tired color pallette, and candy smores and peppermint bark in tins. We get it. We’ve been getting it for years.

    If they don’t reinvent themselves, they may ring in the new year sitting on tins of stale peppermint bark and hanging up store liquidation signs.

    See you in 2009 to see if I’m right. 😉

  98. The S&B store at my local mall (Westmoreland Mall in Greensburg, PA) is unique in that it is a two-level, 35,000 square foot store. Does anyone know of any other S&B stores with two levels?

  99. There is a S&B store @ Crossroads Mall in OKC thats a 2 level store.

  100. Restoration Hardware really killed themeselves when they abandoned their original focus and tuned the store into a knock off of Crate & Barrel with domestics.

  101. The S & B at Hickory Hollow Mall in Antioch, TN has 2 levels…and no A/C when I visited last week!!!

  102. I’m going to predict that Circuit CITY will be on the death watch very soon. Why am I so sure, because the store near where I work is dead 95% of the time. Believe it or not my supervisor tells me that it is one of the top performing stores.

    Say what? He is just as dumfounded over that as I am.


  103. Personally, I can see Circuit City going belly up very soon, even though I don’t want them to because their service and selection is considerably better than Best Buy. Best Buy’s customer service has gone WAY downhill over the past few years.

  104. Circut City just opened a new store down the street from where I live. I got a coupon in the mail to use on a purchase. This is the second store in town. The first store was opened way back in 1992, and is still open. I know they were having trouble, but there is a brand new store just opened. And I agree with Jake, there service and selection is better. I just bought my 42 inch high def TV from CC in Feburary. And also, there stores are not so loud and noisy as Best Buy. The music is so loud in Best Buy sometimes, that is annoying when I am browsing. If there is a Best Buy or a Circuit City next to each other, I go to the Circuit City, it is a better store.

  105. I don’t want to se Circuit City close either, but I’m trying to be realistic.

    As far as Best Buy goes, the stores in Westbury, West Nyack NY & Paramus NJ are great. You get service quickly & you get out fast most of the time. On the other hand, the only good CC location near me is in Westbury NY, the 3 closest stores to me go from OK to really bad service.

    I remember going to the Aventura FL location 20 years ago & recalling how exciting that store was with all of the interactive displays in each department. Today they just don’t have the same vibe they use to, wich may lead to there downfall.

  106. I’m glad to see that Steve & Barry’s will be around, but does it bother anyone else that the two little pukes that started the company walk away wealthy, after sucking all the money out of the chain with little regard for the people that make up their organization?

    I think it’s shameful.

  107. I was glad to see that Steve And Barry’s brand will still be here. I still think they have something to offer in the retail world. The article does state the 2 founders were going to be investers in the new corporation. I don’t recall any stories of the 2 founders doing anything unethical. It is called capitalism and free enterprise through which they earned money from all there years of hard work, talents and skills to operate and grow a business and become rich. Nothing wrong with that.

  108. They were entrepreneurs, but they should’ve suffered, lost their company completely, and started anew. Their miracle company suddenly filed Chapter 11 after lying about how they were really profitable, and they become…


    I suspect foul play. They probably did something illegal.

  109. Jamie, I agree that there is nothing wrong with capitalism. I’m on board with that 100%. In 2006, TA Associates paid the two founders $320 million for half the business. Half of that went back into the stores, and the other $160 million went to the two co-founders. Ummmm,. okay. I have no problem with that. Good job, guys.

    What I have a problem with is that they file for chapter 11 after blaming the economy for putting them in the position of not being able to pay back outstanding loans. It’s as if they said, “oops, we made some bad business decisions, did not take the possibility of a downturn in the economy into account with regard to future projections, we can’t pay back our loans, and oh yeah, we’re out of money”. Ummmm, okay. What happened to the 80 million a piece that each received back in 2006????!!!! This is where I’m lost. Should an LLC or C-corp be allowed to file chapter 11, after the founders drain a significant portion of the assets from the business? I don’t think so. The founders should have to spend down their personal assets before seeking chapter 11 protection . Too much of this crap goes down every year, with these CEO’s just “walking away” wealthy and everyone else holding the bag.

    Let me tell you where I’m coming from. If you or I were to need long term care in a home, the government compels us to spend down our assets first to pay for the cost of the care, BEFORE getting title 19 assistance. AND there is a look-back period of three years to make sure we didn’t “title” our property to others to sidestep the process. Why should corporations be held any less accountable.

    Perhaps there should be some accountability. Am I missing something? I’m not being fecetious. Is there something that I’m not taking into consideration?

  110. CoryTJ, I couldn’t agree more with you, but it does seem very bad that the company is in big trouble and the founders are rolling in cash. I still want to know if they were doing anything illegal, though…

  111. Jonah,
    Unfortunately, what they did is completely legal. If it is not a traded company, they do not have a charter. Since they are not publicly traded, there is no SEC filing of insiders dumping stock in the company. They pretty much have carte blanche.

    They company website posts a response from the founders indicating how ‘sorry’ they are that this happened, and how ‘concerned’ they are about the employees that were affected. Yeah, but there remorse seems to fall short of cracking open their wallets. This is not a case like Boscov’s where they did everything possible to keep from filing chapter 11.

  112. Jonah,
    Unfortunately, what they did is completely legal. If it is not a traded company, they do not have a charter. Since they are not publicly traded, there is no SEC filing of insiders dumping stock in the company. They pretty much have carte blanche.

    They company website posts a response from the founders indicating how ‘sorry’ they are that this happened, and how ‘concerned’ they are about the employees that were affected. Yeah, but there remorse seems to fall short of cracking open their wallets. This is not a case like Boscov’s where they did everything possible to keep from filing chapter 11.

  113. Steve & Barry’s is officially dumping all stores in central Illinois. Most locations here were in strip centers not in malls. Exceptions are Village Mall in Danville and East Court Village (Pekin Mall). I don’t remember if the Decatur location was in Hickory Point or not.

  114. Just noticed Steve and Barry’s is closing their Livingston Mall location…this is a very big store and with the recent renovation/expansion coming to an end, it will get filled pretty fast.

    I’ll check on Menlo next time I’m there and if S&B’s closes there, maybe my Menlo fantasy of a Bloomingdale’s and/or Neiman Marcus expansion will come true now that there will be room.

  115. Yeah, S&B’s is dumping about 100 stores…including one at my mall. Maybe they’ll turn it back into specialty store space again (I wish).

  116. From the Bergen Reccord.

    Linens Asks to Begin Liquidation Sales at All Stores


    October 8, 2008

    There’s still life in Linens ‘n Things, the Clifton-based company insisted Tuesday, despite filing a request in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for permission to begin going-out-of-business sales at all of its 371 remaining stores.

    A spokeswoman for the housewares retailer said Tuesday afternoon that the company plans to reveal the “stalking horse,” or lead bidder, for Linens today. “The company’s had several bidders be interested in the past few weeks, but the stalking horse is the one that actually stepped forward and made their offer,” the spokeswoman said. “This is still a fluid process,” she said, adding that the fate of the 33-year-old company is far from certain.

    “There’s a number of other bidders who’ve expressed interest, and there will be a court-supervised auction Oct. 14, and that’s when the other bidders have an opportunity to emerge,” the spokeswoman said. “This isn’t a done deal.”

    But analysts who follow the company have been betting for some time that Linens’ owners will decide that it’s time to throw in the towel, rather than keep the struggling company alive.

    Linens parent company, Linens Holding Co., listed debts of $1.42 billion and assets of $1.74 billion as of Dec. 29, according to the Chapter 11 filing in May.

    Linens, which had close to 600 stores and more than $2 billion in sales at its peak, was taken private in 2006 in a leveraged buyout by private equity firm Apollo Management LP. The new owners installed their own management team and announced a nine-year turnaround plan, just as the sub-prime mortgage crisis began to put the brakes on housing sales.

    Linens had been fighting to hold its own against its chief rival, Union-based Bed Bath and Beyond Inc., and against competition from Wal-Mart Stores and Target, before the slowdown.

    Michael Gries, Linens’ chief restructuring officer, told Judge Christopher Sontchi in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on Tuesday that the company wants to start liquidation sales immediately to beat an expected wave of retail bankruptcies, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

    Retail analyst Howard Davidowitz, however, said the fact that Linens may liquidate before Christmas is a sign of how badly the stores have been doing in recent months. “They were losing like 25 percent of their business every week,” said Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm based in New York. “The company demonstrated in bankruptcy no ability to resuscitate themselves.

    “When you are burning that much cash, what option do you have but to liquidate immediately to preserve any value for the creditors?” he said.

    Linens faced a nearly impossible turnaround mission, Davidowitz said. “Home is the single worst segment of retailing,” he said, citing the Bombay Co. and Levitz bankruptcies and closings of Pier I and Home Depot stores.

    Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter, in a note to investors Tuesday, wrote that Bed Bath and Beyond is well-positioned to gain market share if the expected Linens store closings occur.

    The birth and death of Linens

    1975 Founder Eugene Kalkin opens the first Linens ‘n Things store in West Orange.

    1983 The chain is bought by Melville Corp., a retail conglomerate.

    1996 Linens is spun off from Melville as a public company.

    2006 Private equity firm Apollo Management LP buys Linens for $1.3 billion. New CEO announces a nine-year turnaround plan.

    May 2008 Linens files for bankruptcy protection, says it will close some stores, but promises to reemerge smaller and more profitable.

    I think Queen said it best, “Another one bights the dust.”

  117. Steve and Barry’s is closing their location in Post Oak Mall in College Station, TX. Although this store is not a major anchor for the mall, it still takes up a substantial amount of space within the mall, space that will be difficult to fill with the current economic downturn. Luckily, this mall is the only mall within the Brazos Valley so it covers a very wide trade area. The next closest malls to College Station are in The Woodlands and Houston, which are both about an hour away.

  118. I can’t believe I didn’t see this subject sooner, but I just have to chime in with my $0.02 on the new Walmart logo. I think the lame starburst thingy looks more like an asterisk that would lead you to the bottom of the advertisement where the disclaimers are. Kinda like:

    * Be advised that a good percentage of the cheap Chinese crap that you may fill your cart with will end up in a landfill within six months.


    * Please be aware that by shopping at Walmart you will accelerate the demise of locally owned and any other businesses within a 10 mile radious.

  119. Good to see S&B’s aren’t closing all of their stores. The one in Fox Valley mall (Aurora IL) had signs stating “Store Closing Sale” and on the bottom said ” this location NOT closing”. That’s good for Fox Valley since the store takes up a good chunck of the lower level by Sears. Hopefully Louis Joliet and Yorktown survived the cut too.

    Not so fortunate is White Oak Mall in Springfield. Simon split up the lower level of the former Wards in Linen’N Things and World Market (Dicks has the top level). Both are now gone. Not too may places want a half anchor location right now.

  120. I’ve been wondering – the star in the logo for this blog – is it supposed to be the Zayre star? That’s the first thing i thought of.

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