A Bad Idea Exposed

Well, it looks like going up against Nike and Urban/Anthropology by endorsing the likes of Stephon Marbury and Sarah Jessica Parker, paying up for expensive big-box leases, and selling product at prices rivaling Wal*Mart's in an inflating cost environment was not such a good idea after all.

Steve and Barry's started down the high quality/low price retailer path back in 1985. But it ramped up its growth trajectory in - you guessed it - 2005-2007 (up to 250 stores). I'm all for the high quality/low price model -- but there are some spots where it simply does not work. Footwear retail is one of them. Humor me and take a moment to look at my posting from last night on Whitehall's Chapter 11 filing. This period was a statistical anomaly as it relates to the sheer lack of bankruptcies. Steve and Barry's did not file, but it reportedly (WWD) lost key designers several weeks back, and now is looking for a $30mm capital infusion. This is not smelling like it is headed in the right direction.

I should note that there is virtually no receivables exposure here for any major brands given the private label and licensed nature of S&B's product. I'm inclined to think that the biggest constituent on the hook will be the REITs who will have to find a home for the 50k-100k box size to the extent that S&B were to downsize. If S&B went away entirely, that'd be a nice little kicker for Payless.

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