Mervyns Is Next?

It seems like Hayward, CA-based department-store chain Mervyns is the next in line for closures or bankruptcy.

We are seeing reports that the retailer, with most of its 177 stores on the West Coast, is no longer getting orders approved from suppliers.

It’s been years since we’ve entered a Mervyns, but we’re not surprised at this news since most regional retailers in recent years have either closed or gotten bought. Somehow, despite rising fuel costs and other economic pressures, Mervyns isn’t attracting the low-income consumer.

Meanwhile, GlobeSt.com ran a story last summer about an empty Mervyns getting filled by a Steve & Barry’s. We guess that’s not happening again if there are mass store closings.

Is this chain seriously flawed or just another victim of hard times?

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11 Responses to “Mervyns Is Next?”


  1. 1 joe July 22, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Since the 80’s, I never understood where in the merchandising food chain Mervyn’s fit. When they came to Texas in the early 80’s they never had an identity… so if they go away, who will notice?

  2. 2 E July 22, 2008 at 10:25 am

    8 years ago, I moved to the suburbs in upstate NY, and there was a chain outfit up there called Ames Department Stores. They were headquarterd out of the Northeast (MA, I think). Picture a cheap version of Woolworth’s, back-in-the-day.

    Ames went belly-up for a number of reasons in 2001-2002 (over expansion, poor product offerings, extending credit to anyone who filled out an application, etc.). Same self-fulfilling prophecy as Mervyns — credit tightening, no new merchandise in the stores, and the stuff in the store stayed on shelfs for weeks/months, people stayed away in droves.

    As Ames $$$ situation worsened, everything tanked — stores were filthy inside and out, staffed by indifferent/surly employees.

    Sadly this Mervyns’ news is a template almost for almost all pressed retail stores today. Somewhere in the distance, when you compare Ames and Mervyns, one can here the sound of “Taps” coming out of a funereal bugle. R.I.P.

  3. 3 Nancy H July 22, 2008 at 10:38 am

    The Mervyn’s we have here in Scottsdale has always been kind of in the middle – their clothes are a little better than the true discount stores like Marshall’s, TJ Max, or Kohls, but their prices are also higher. So it’s not really a surprise that they aren’t attracting the low-income consumer. Plus, I just don’t see them doing much marketing. For awhile they had commercials on all the time – especially at back-to-school time (they do have great kid’s clothes) – but in the last few years…nothing. A store can’t survive if no one knows they exist.

  4. 4 TeenyTiny July 22, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    They lost their focus years ago.

  5. 5 TeenyTiny July 22, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    There’s an old saying that nobody recognizes that some are swimming naked…. until the tide rolls in. Well the economy is declining and the tide is coming in, so guess who’s swimming naked?

  6. 6 Ron Winter July 22, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Most everybody recognizes “open, open, open ” . That was the Mervyn’s commercial recognition for years. The thing the has hurt Mervyn’s is that the majority of the stores are freestanding and shoppers today tend to go where they can shop from more than one source. Also, there are alot of babyboomers like myself who hated the mall and liked to go to a Mervyn’s where we could go in buy and get out. Now our children are all growin up, and we can afford nicer clothes so no reason to go back. Hence just like JJ Newberry, and Woolworths, time will take it’s toll on one more retailer.

  7. 7 MallMaven July 23, 2008 at 1:29 am

    The problem with Mervyn’s is they should not be relying on their real estate to make their mark, real estate is an ancillary role, not the main event in retail real estate. We all know, from being in this field for many years, that Ops is and should be the focus. When real estate becomes the focus, the retailer has already seen their heyday, such is the case with KMart/Sears, as well.
    BRING BACK THE MERCHANT!!!!!
    MERCHANTS NEED TO RULE!!!!!!

  8. 8 James July 23, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    How many sellers of style-less baggy ill-fitting cotton clothes does the world need?? Eddis Bauer is another one. Even more puzzeling is the existence of Old Navy where most of the clothes are 95% worn out before the customer buys them! Why do low income people buy clothes that have no wear, hence no value, left in them?? They’d be better off shopping at Nordstrom!

  9. 9 Barry July 24, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Sad to see another go by the wayside?

    Seems management should have made serious changes long ago.

    Probably to late now.

  10. 10 Nancy H July 24, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Wow, I totally forgot about the “Open, open, open” commercials. Those were great. They should have kept it up. Market, market, market…or die.

  11. 11 Zane Waltz July 28, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Very informative article. It will be a miracle if they can make a come-back.


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