Friday, March 13, 2009

Retail Fail

Despite all the hand wringing over this past weekend, the macroeconomy is a far worse threat to downtown then a bunch of wannabe gangsters. The economy is metaphorically beating the crap out of some retailers in front of the New York & Company after a go-go concert. A number of national chains with Silver Spring outlets are in dire financial straits. The latest of these is Ann Taylor, which plans to close 46 or more stores after recent losses.

Others that are in trouble:

- Pier 1, whose stock has lost most of its value over the past year.

- Ritz Camera, which has already declared bankruptcy, plans to close 400 stores starting next month.

- Borders, whose share price has fallen 95% in value and which has recently announced more layoffs (but no store closings as of yet).

Everyone already knows about Starbucks and their store closings, but based on the traffic it gets I don't think our store is in any risk.

For fellow data visualization geeks, here's a chart of the stock performance of the parent companies of selected Silver Spring chain stores over the past year. (Wow, Pier 1 is a real superstar.) Interestingly, the two restaurants that seem to bear the brunt of chain hatred - Red Lobster (DRI) and Macaroni Grill (EAT)- are performing relatively well.

DTSS has already lost a couple tenants to corporate failure - Storehouse Furniture and Bombay Company. However, these events were blessings in disguise. The loss of Storehouse netted us Marimekko, while the Bombay space is filled on a temporary basis by the Pyramid Atlantic store, which IMO is more interesting than the former tenant. The loss in rent in the latter case has to hurt the landlord, though. Steve & Barry's, which for a brief time was the only moderately interesting thing about Shitty Place, also went kaput.

I don't know if the Silver Spring locations would be anywhere near the top of these companies' chopping list. For all I know, they could be among the top-grossing stores in each of their respective chains. If one did close, is there really any hope these days of replacing it anytime soon?

We already have few too many stores for a downtown area. I'd hate to see the ones we do have close. Regardless of what you think of these stores, or chains in general, they do sure beat abandoned storefronts. Many of you may recall what those look like:



Of course, some people prefer downtown as an urban wasteland...



16 comments:

Anonymous said...

IHATEYUPPIES said...

If national chains closing in DTSS means more local entrepreneurs filling the void, then I think this is a good thing for our community.

-IHY-

laura said...

Yes - after all, replacing national chains with local shops has worked SOOOO well for City Place.

js said...

As troubling as these signs are for the economy at large, they're still more troubling on a personal level: where will I buy my 35mm film and wicker furniture now?

RoseAG said...

Local entrepreneurs seem limited to hair and nail places. Worthy, but not anything that great.

Sometimes places are obligated on the lease for multiple years so they really don't save much money by closing stores.

Tina & Drew said...

Small businesses are going to be hurting for lines of credit these days. Likely would lead to stagnation/decline of the downtown area - not good news.

God we don't need another hair and nail place.

How is Merimeko doing? I've been interested in participating in the make your own handbag but it looks like they're significantly reduced their clothing line/deep discounts and their store is now a hodgepodge of offerings... Are they doing ok?

Thomas Hardman said...

I know! Let's try to get Hot Topic to open a branch in DTSS!

I mean, they may Wheaton Plaza such a total success!

Plus, doesn't just everybody need some black fishnet lace gloves?

Mike said...

I can tell you tihs much-during the Christmas shopping season, of all the properties in the area Peterson manages, they reported that the stores in DTSS were doing the best.

Of course, that won't matter if an entire company goes belly-up, i.e., Circuit City, but it's encouraging if a company is considering closing individual stores and looking at performance of each store.

And please, get off it with the anti-chain crap. Chains are successful because they offer something many people, including you and your neighbors, want. Or they don't and they fail. C'est le retail guerre.

Chain vs. local is a specious argument. There is room, and a need, for both. Live with it.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how those citizens feel about post-Doug Duncan Silver Spring.

Anonymous said...

It was announced back in December, I believe, that Borders is closing the store in Gaithersburg Square. But them I'm an anonymous poster, and who can believe us shifty characters?

Meg said...

I fear for dtss DSW - there is now another one just a few miles away at Wheaton

ForestGlen said...

What about Marshall's...I like that store

Anonymous said...

I will continue to go to the DSW in DTSS. Wheaton Mall is way scarier.

Thomas Hardman said...

So says the Anonymous DTSS DSW employee...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

IHATEYUPPIES said...

If national chains closing in DTSS means more local entrepreneurs filling the void, then I think this is a good thing for our community.

-IHY-

RE: Wishful thinking that won't ever happen.

jerry'sdaughter said...

don't you mean "too few stores" in DTSS not a "few too many?"

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