Eddie Bauer Going Online-Only?

If some bidders for bankrupt retailer Eddie Bauer have their way, the apparel company will liquidate its 370 stores and live its future life as an e-tailer, the New York Post says.

The two hedge funds that control Eddie Bauer’s $200 million in debt, Monarch Alternative Capital and Anchorage Advisors, are considering teaming up with Hilco Consumer Capital and Gordon Brothers. Hilco, Gordon Brothers and Monarch together bought the Linens ‘n Things name, which now sells items online after its stores folded.

But apparently there are lots of bidders for Eddie Bauer that are proposing a number of different scenarios. However, it seems like this is going to be another bad development for retail landlords.

Could Eddie Bauer’s retail stores survive this, or is the concept better off as an Internet-only enterprise?


12 Responses to “Eddie Bauer Going Online-Only?”

  1. 1 James July 16, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Eddie Bauer has failed to live up to its brand image. Image: 1930’s Avaitor, adventurer, expedition leader into the unknown etc, the original Indiana Jones if you will, Reality: the same Bland and Boring cotton clothes that are available everywhere else, except higher priced! Several times various entities have tried to capitalize on the Eddie Bauer brand but have failed miserably to deliver the goods, mainly because leadership has been comprised apparently of insipid conformist accountants!
    Where are the canvas pants with side pockets?, where are the Bomber jackets with shearling collars, where are the heavy wool knit sweaters with shawl collars, where are the wide wale cords, where are the expedition watches and binoculars that would actual hold up under dire conditions, where are the thick leather belts with cool buckles that would last a lifetime, where are the heavy shirts with a dozen cool pockets, where are the military style lace up boots, when was the last time Eddie Bauer did anything to distinguish itself from a Target store??
    Eddie Bauer customers are tired of being hustled by the “brand”, now if they brought out a cool product line online, dugged into their image boldly, came out with some imaginative ads, and actually did something consistent with the image maybe….

    • 2 chuck July 16, 2009 at 9:21 am

      James, what planet are you from? Shearling Collar Bomber Jackets, Military Lace-Up Boots, a dozen pockets on a shirt? quite a difference between EB and a Target store. Sounds like you need to be shopping at LLBean or REI.

      • 3 James July 16, 2009 at 6:49 pm

        Chuck, By the way, I have a shearling collar leather bomber jacket that I wear to ride my Road King Classic Harley Davidson when its cold out. I also have a great heavy weight cotton shirt with about a dozen pockets that I wear when I go fly fishing in Wyoming. The lace up military style boots really come in handy when I am in Keystone enjoying apres’ ski parties with my blond girl friend ( 20 years my junior), can you see why I am so disappointed in Eddie Bauers bull roar nonsense? Oh, and I am still looking for a great pair of wide wale cords in black please.

  2. 4 diverjm July 16, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I agree with James,EB’s inventory in my view is unimaginitive and not materially differnet from what can be found at a Target store,only not as cheaply. Their brand,at least to me,does invoke adventure,expedition,and trhe outdoors,they should capitlize on that by carying goods closer to those found at REI and LL Bean.

  3. 5 Kerry Adams July 16, 2009 at 10:05 am

    James nailed it Chuck, get a clue. Sure there are subtle differences that may seem glossed over. But in the end, EB has done what Banana Republic did way back a million years ago….which is to lose it’s original (very unique) identity. Except BR made a full switch. EB just watered it down to the point that it looks like every other stinking apparel retailer. I cant believe it took the current conditions to run these guys into the ground. The garbage most of our “top line” retailers bring to market is exactly that…..garbage. Classic marketing lesson. Consumers see the brand and conjure up images that the actual product no longer substantiates. I’d wager you could represent 10 disctinct retailers’ lines in one store and put a name on it. No one would notice that the product was borrowed from across the mall. Blaise.

  4. 6 gary July 16, 2009 at 11:48 am

    I don’t see REI and L.L. Bean in bankruptcy. Is that because they maintained integrity with their customers. Both have profitable retail outlets and profitable e-tailing operations because their customers find value in the products they offer. It’s not about the format, it’s about value for the consumer.

  5. 7 Nathan July 16, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    (Eddie Bauer deservers to be sold at Kohl’s) Neil Fisk when he first came to Eddie Bauer he personally vouched for having quality products that Mr. Eddie Bauer himself would be proud of. But season after season they continue to make horrible decisions for example in the current season men’s they designed a polyester shirt that snags and the pressed on Eddie Bauer in the new exciting logo peals off. For Women its thrumpy hippy shirts and these shirts all get reduced 3 times and end up being sold for less then 14.99. I could go on about specific product. Then they have the corporate employees who in the summer get Fridays off so they can go on canoe races then encourage the stores to GET OUTSIDE on there on free time cause that’s what a manager who works 42 to 44 hours regularly would like to do is be around the people they see more then there own families. Now bare in mind the corporate employees and district directors make salaries in excess of 50K. its no wonder this company is in this position I hope CCMP wins the bid.

  6. 8 James July 16, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    REI and LL Bean have worked hard to honor and maintain their essential contract with their customer. Therefore success is theirs. Eddie Bauer has not.
    Prehaps now the only question is can an Eddie Bauer on-line re-establish a brand identity and deliver the goods that are consistent with the brand image. See suggestions above which I should get a commission on for coming up with.
    They will have to do that OR redefine Eddie’s image as “Eddie, the suburban aspiring, KIA driving, yuppy nerd wanna be”!

  7. 9 dan July 17, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    I remember waiting in line in chicago on state street during the first week eddie bauer opened their 1st retail store outside of seattle. I believe it was their 2nd store. people actually slept on the sidewalks the nite before they first opened. then again, I planned my honeymoon around a visit to freeport, maine in the mid 80’s so I could vist the ll bean complex. all these guys…rei, bauer, bean, north face, patagonia,land’s end(actually a less outdorsy look than bean when they originated yet, still a bean ripoff at the time)etc. were cataloggers. the uniqueness wore off because, just like the demographics in the u.s. the great “melting pot” of retail followed. oh, by the way, I bought the bombadeer jacket bean first introduced but that was in the 70’s.

  8. 10 Alan Barocas July 18, 2009 at 6:31 am

    The “Eddie Bauer ” name is the only real asset of value the company has left as validated by Golden Gates acquisition of the company. Agree with others that they need to redefine who they are and what they stand for. Once this is done, it will be much easier to do it in the E commerce and catalog arenas than it will in the brick and mortar locations.
    To be successful, a retailers real estate and merchandise strategy should be in sync. Real Estate decisions are long term ones and rely on the fundamentals of the market to be successful. If merchandise and brand strategies are not sustainable , then those real estate decisions are negatively impacted and doomed to failure. Once EB decides who they are and what they stand for and if they are committed to brick and mortar as a point of distribution, I am afraid that the only logical way to accomplish this will be through massive store closures.

  9. 11 Tsquare March 5, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Great Blog!……There’s always something here to make me laugh…Keep doing what ya do 🙂

  10. 12 Cardy Long April 18, 2010 at 3:24 am

    Slightly off the subject perhaps, also a slightly weird query, but I’m just after some extra information on the manufacture of UGG footwear. Does anyone know what breed of sheep the boots are manufactured from? And are real UGG boots constructed from the same breed as the copies?

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