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The Hits Keep Coming for the Retail Sector


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Where I grew up (Chicago burbs), the flagship stores were: 

 

Marshall Fields

Lord & Taylor

JC Penney

Sears

 

I listed them in that order intentionally based on price & quality, at least from my perspective back then. However, our JC Penney was always well put together, with intricate displays of clothing, bedding, etc.  I happened to wander in a JC Penney this past Christmas season and yikes, how the mighty have fallen! It's sad to see the sign of the times affect stores like these, and the whole "mall experience" fading quickly as a whole. 

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As someone who was born in 1979, the tail end of disco and Gen-X, I still carry fond memories of being at the local shopping malls when going to the malls -- not always to shop for something in particular, but just to browse -- was still a real experience, especially for those who lived in the midwest.  Nothing defined that time better than shopping malls and John Hughes films.  It's sad that those who are coming along now will never enjoy malls the way my generation did.

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6 hours ago, Khan said:

As someone who was born in 1979, the tail end of disco and Gen-X, I still carry fond memories of being at the local shopping malls when going to the malls -- not always to shop for something in particular, but just to browse -- was still a real experience, especially for those who lived in the midwest.  Nothing defined that time better than shopping malls and John Hughes films.  It's sad that those who are coming along now will never enjoy malls the way my generation did.

Teenage gangs and the demise of the middle class is what destroyed the malls. 

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I work about a block away from Neiman's here in the D.C. area. Their Christmas book is legendary, I've got 2019's still on my coffee table. Fantasy gifts include: an Aston Martin designed by Daniel Craig (in blue to match his eyes, natch) for the cheeky price of $700,007; custom Christian Louboutins for $125,000; an $89,000 sable coat; a custom dog house co-designed by Denise Richards at the starting price of $70,000; a makeup masterclass and Istagram video with an IG personality for $400,000... the list goes on.

 

Thanks to the Lifetime movie, more people have been introduced to the Clark Sisters. When Karen was coming out of her coma following terrible complications post-gastric bypass, Dorinda asked Karen if she wanted to go to Neiman Marcus and Karen started rapidly blinking her eyes.

 

 

12 hours ago, Gray Bunny said:

Where I grew up (Chicago burbs), the flagship stores were: 

 

Marshall Fields

Lord & Taylor

JC Penney

Sears

 

Our answer to Marshall Fields was Hecht's, which all became Macy's. I know MF was acquired by Macy's as well, and I appreciated that MF was able to keep its name.

 

We had a luxury mall that was anchored by Bloomingdales, I. Magnin, and Lord & Taylor. The entire mall has been razed for redevelopment (open air shopping and dining plazas are back in vogue) save for L&T which was promised a mall in their lease. They won a multi-million dollar settlement and the store stands alone surrounded by a huge parking lot and nothingness where a mall once stood. Breaks my '80s nostalgic heart.

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I've always loathed malls and a very big part of me has always believed that the shopping mall has not helped, but in fact, chipped away at the health of retail, the way that the likes of Home Depot chipped away at the local mom and pop hardware store.

The shopping mall, for me, was a place of last resort, if I couldn't get what I needed anywhere else. It was a place to get in and out of as quickly as possible. I much preferred a good shopping district where I could duck in and out of stores, get fresh air in the meantime and didn't have to smell the overwhelming odors wafting in from the food court while trying on clothes.

 

Edited by DramatistDreamer
odors not orders-- it was too early when I wrote this!
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On 4/20/2020 at 7:11 AM, Aback said:

 

LOL... where do these writers even live...

 

The same place where Genoa City has a bustling international airport. Y&R gave up realism when Victor Newman arrived.

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7 hours ago, dragonflies said:

I remember when JC PENNEY wad the place to shop. My grandma bought their catalog and I'd peruse it dreaming of stuff I'd want for Christmas lol

My bedroom curtains came from the 1997 JCpenney catalog. The last thing I ever purchased from it. 

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On 4/22/2020 at 8:44 AM, dragonflies said:

I remember when JC PENNEY wad the place to shop. My grandma bought their catalog and I'd peruse it dreaming of stuff I'd want for Christmas lol

 

Those were the best Those and Sears.  My very young self had no idea why I was so interested in the mens Hanes underwear pages 

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I grew up in a suburban area and a big adventure for me was going to the big city downtown and visiting the flagship locations of major department stores. There was something so glamorous about the cosmetic/skin care counters and the clothing/shoes/purses sections in the downtown stores that you didn't experience in the suburb mall locations.

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5 hours ago, victoria foxton said:

 

 

  

 

The Gap DESERVES to "die."

 

Don't get me wrong: I'd feel bad for all the employees, who would now be unemployed.  But, man, do their stores sell such terrible merchandise -- and at such over-inflated prices, too!

Edited by Khan
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It's ironic how we personalize, (and romanticize) the failing of retail. 

 

However, like many industries, the failures in retails are multi-variate.  Take Barney's for example, real estate was more of an issue than sales in the demise of the company.  Once Barney's expanded from their initial site on the UWS of Manhattan they were subjected to rental prices that rose and fell regardless of the sales of their designer garments.  GAP once owned vast amounts of San Francisco real estate, that was sold in order to finance bonds to fund further expansion.  While I've not shopped at Banana Republic for years because I have all of the khaki workwear that I'll ever need, their sales stock is not what is tanking that brand as much as the cost of maintaining employee health care and the demands of stockholders wanting to raid corporate pensions and other cash assets. 

 

Locally, in Los Angeles, I was amazed that long standing companies have been unable to sustain the loss of a single month's revenue during lockdown, simply due to debts incurred by selling off their real estate holdings, and then being unable to leverage its value during a downturn in sales.

 

While this is a relatively trivial concern, it will be interesting to see how older luxury brands will survive in the current market.  Chanel once produced couture collections as publicity for their high margin items like cosmetics and perfumes, because customers enjoyed the experience of buying luxury items from specialty retail spaces within department stores.  However, with young luxury customers more interested in hyping their purchases on Instagram, the days of wanting to experience an interaction with a snooty perfume saleswoman are gone.  As a result, last year, Dior made more from the sales of tee-shirts than cosmetics because the customer wants something that can be seen on social media rather than the experience of personal interactions with luxury brand salespeople.  Who needs a $50 lipstick, when you can get one for $5 and achieve the same look in pics?

Edited by j swift
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