Everybody out of the pool!

The other week I wondered if Steve & Barry’s was paying rent to Carousel Mall, given that they were not known to be paying it hardly anywhere else. According to Bob Niedt’s latest column, rumor has it they are not. I had never been to a Steve & Barry’s so when I was at the mall recently I went down to the Commons level to check them out. The store was mostly empty of shoppers, but full of rather crappy “fashion” merchandise aimed at teens — sloganed T-shirts and the like. S&B’s may have been at the very pinnacle (or nadir?) of the current American “boom” which is turning out to be mostly hype and little substance.

And then there’s Starbucks, which is closing 600 installations and firing 12,000 workers. Starbucks won’t say where the closings will be. I wonder how long the Starbucks in the Fairmount Target will hold out. (For that matter, I wonder how long the Target will hold out — that parking lot looks mighty empty a lot of the time.) Guess I’d better hurry up and use the remaining dollars on my gift card, eh?

And then there is the auto industry. A Ford dealership in Cortland has abruptly shut its doors. A more interesting part of the oil story is that many states and localities are finding it hard to stretch the budget to do necessary road paving projects. The supreme irony may be that even if we all traded our SUV’s and F-250’s for Smart Cars and bicycles, our streets may soon be passable only by Hummers.

6 Replies to “Everybody out of the pool!”

  1. Aww, say it ain’t so Steve and Barry! So you can’t build an empire around selling T-shirts and sweatshirts for $8? Building a retail empire is difficult, fashion even more so, given the fickle nature and trendiness of the industry. (Look at the Gap’s recent problems.)

    The one positive (and potential business idea) out of the store was the Starbury basketball sneaker. Sell the quality shoe that the star wears for only $15. Supposedly by stripping away the advertising and a lot of the star’s contract, you could reduce the cost of the shoe to a reasonable level. It was the anti-hype. Eliminate the horrible pressure on parents and kids to have to shell out close to $200 for the latest and greatest Air Jordan. By the way, Michael Jordan has always been one of our nation’s biggest jerks.

    Hopefully the Starbury business model can survive and somebody will take it on if S & B’s crashes and burns.

  2. So here is an idea for the adaptive re-use of “abruptly closed” auto dealerships and “about to be closed” Targets: the return of the roller-rink. That way all the unemployed folk can stay fit while slacking.

  3. i’ll miss steve & barry’s. i made it through last winter playing basketball in $9 ‘starburys,’ and the place also had a great line of sweats and long-sleeved T-shirts from fredonia (my alma mater) and the other suny schools that you could pick up for $10 or so – compared to $30 or $35 in a college bookstore. a buddy of mine also bought all his shorts there for the summer, mainly because he’s a guy from tipp hill with a tattoo of the traffic light on his arm whose main fashion concern is the fashion of the number on the price tag … and in that sense, fashion at steve & barry’s was just right.

    back to a.j. wright’s for me.


  4. At least AJ Wright’s has clothes I can wear to work! I guess I consider T-shirts a “luxury good” – for me, work clothes have to come first, and sloganed T-shirts in general seem like an extravagance; they can’t do double duty as a credible part of an outfit, whereas a plain T-shirt has a more useful life. I was agog at the sheer volume of them available at S&B’s. I couldn’t help thinking, “In five years these are going to be worn by kids in refugee camps in Africa who will have no idea what is printed on them…”

  5. my teenage son is going on a trip to africa this summer with a group that goes each year from syracuse. they’ll be in ghana, and he was told that t-shirts and sweats with the names of american schools and sports teams are considered items of high barter value there.

    – sean

  6. those t-shirts did not actually cost $10 or so…these companies just transfer the extra costs as externalities.

    Stuff like wages and hours resembling sweatshops. Or heavily polluted watersheds…

    We might not pay it as part of the t-shirt price…but it’s definitely a cost.

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