March 2, 2009
All fashion retailers are in a transition – trading turtle necks for halter-tops and warm wool trousers for the cool, breezy feel of linen slacks. This transition alone can make your favorite clothing stores feel as empty as the day after Black Friday while they await spring shipments.
But, if you’ve visited Lane Bryant lately and wondered why the store looks unusually empty, even during this awkward period, it’s because it is empty – on purpose!
The manager at the Columbus Crossing Lane Bryant on Columbus Boulevard (also known as Delaware Avenue) said that the company switched to a new boutique concept about two months ago.
The beauty and horror of a boutique: There are normally one or two size runs of each item in stock and once it’s gone, it’s gone! (Actually, you can always order the item on line or via LB2Me in any store if it’s in stock).
For the true diva, this is good. Some of your favorite jackets, blouses and specialty items will be less common and you will be less likely to spot your killer outfit on someone else. If you choose to wait to pick something up the next day, you will likely return to a rack without that item. Let’s face it, it’s difficult enough to find something in your size that’s not too tight (unless you like tight, which I’ll address in a different article) or not too lose, so to return to pick up the jeans from Heaven to find they are no longer there can be devastating.
The boutique concept makes good business sense, though. At the end of a sales cycle, stores routinely have a greater surplus of a particular product than intended, forcing it to the discount rack or eventually selling it 30-60 percent below the retail value to buyers from discount department stores like Marshals and Burlington Coat Factory to unload it. Moreover, the associates don’t lose floor time running back and forth to the stock room to see whether an item not on the floor is in a customer’s size. From a business perspective – especially in this economy – less is truly more.
I still miss all of the racks and the abundance of clothes on the store runways, although the store manager said that there was more of a variety than ever, only less of the variety.
I couldn’t tell. It just looks, well, empty.