January 4, 2009
Bargain hunters pick Steve and Barry's clean
Steve and Barry's, the university-town apparel store with everything under $10, has now reached a new price-point.
A day or so ago, it was "Five for $10." But the shelves that formerly held $10...um, $2 tees, are empty. Totally empty. Now there are half-empty racks of tees with an even lower sale price, and tables (and the floor) piled with a mixture of this and that.
Much of it priced at "Ten for $10." The woman at right guessed she had $15 worth in her arms. Good luck finding something specific, but there's still plenty in your size. Maybe. At these prices, it's not too tight, is it? Or perhaps you'll grow into it?
Some jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts and crewnecks are three for $10... but just wait a day or so.
On second thought: better not wait. The bones of this retail store in Regency Mall were pretty much picked clean by Sunday afternoon. Tables are for sale, and were being carried out alongside the merchandise.
Employees say the store will be open until Jan. 15, but I wouldn't bet on there being much clothing left by then, unless they're bringing it in from somewhere else.
Steve and Barry's collapse in this market has been rather quick. It opened here just four years ago, in November 2004, in a premiere position at Regency Mall: 80,000 sq. ft. once occupied by Bergner's, then Prange, then Younkers then Boston Home Store. (A pattern begins to emerge, eh, Watson?). Steve and Barry's moved last summer to a smaller corner next to JC Penney, to make room for Burlington Coat Factory. Once a fast-growing chain of 270 stores across the country, Steve and Barry's earned much of its profits, according to the Wall Street Journal, from up-front payments made by mall operators seeking to fill vacant big-box spaces. "After those payments, many of the stores are only marginally profitable," wrote a business journal in June, when Steve and Barry's went public seeking $30 million to stave off bankruptcy. Clearly, it didn't find any financing.
14,000 retail stores may close in 2009. When I last talked to Curt Pruitt, manager of Regency Mall, in October, he said 18 retail chains had recently closed or announced they were in trouble, "and we have eight of them." The International Council of Shopping Centers said 3,000 individual stores could shutter by mid-year. KB Toys, Ann Taylor, Sears, Talbots and Circuit City have already announced the closures of some stores.