Today the New York Times has a lengthy feature on the abandoned Brooks Brothers warehouse we posted about earlier this week, along with a summary of the present situation of the company. The Times writes:
The office attire segment of retailing as a whole was battered last year as many Americans worked remotely, ditching entire portions of their closets. J. Crew and the owners of Ann Taylor and Men’s Wearhouse also filed for bankruptcy, while sales nose-dived at chains like Banana Republic. Temporary store closures added to the distress, along with the cancellations of special occasions like proms, graduations, weddings and other events.
All that led up to Brooks Brothers’ bankruptcy filing in July, one of the most significant retail collapses of 2020. Brooks Brothers had dressed all but four U.S. presidents at the time of its filing, and prided itself on its American factories, which were also forced to close.
But investors saw value in the brand, and the retailer was quickly purchased for $325 million by Simon Property Group, the biggest U.S. mall operator, and Authentic Brands Group, a licensing firm.
The firms have been buying up a string of bankrupt mall retailers through a joint venture called the SPARC Group, including Lucky Brand denim and Forever 21, leveraging the combination of Authentic Brands’ expertise in licensing famous brand names in various lucrative and creative (and some say equity-destructive) ways and Simon’s real estate portfolio.
At the time of the Brooks Brothers purchase, SPARC committed to keep operating at least 125 Brooks Brothers retail locations, compared with 424 retail and outlet stores globally before the pandemic.
As for what’s in the warehouse:
“They used it for all of their store fixtures, so tables, props, fishing poles, canoes, everything you would see that would go in and out of a store to decorate it,” Mr. LaBonte said. “There’s probably 20,000 square feet of Christmas trees — everything except the actual merchandise.”
“I’ve been doing this for seven years and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Rick McDonald Jr., the owner of EastSide Junk, which provided the $243,000 quote to the couple. “They left an astronomical amount of stuff.”
In related news on this Good Friday, let us remember the final words of Jesus on the cross: “It is finished.”
Start planning something elegant and traditional to wear for Easter. It will, shall we say, lift your spirits. — CC