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R.I.P. Esprit

In what hopefully isn’t an ongoing trend here on my blog, I recently found out about another retailer tanking. Esprit is shutting down its stores in the United States after losing 98% of its value last year, according to Bloomberg newsMuch like the Syms story I wrote about a few weeks ago, I know several people that work for the company. Apparently, it really is a small world after all, even in a city of over 8 million people. Fortunately, I’ve found out that the organization appears to be doing right by them, so I feel confident that they’ll weather this transition in a good way.

While it’s perfectly normal that businesses go under, I believe that we don’t always get a real measure of what that may look like. These closures are more than the headlines they obtain. I took a few photos to support my case.

First are a few of an Esprit store, located on 34th Street in New York City:


What should be noted is that this particular location is relatively brand new. Esprit had the store built for them 2 years ago; it’s the only occupant. What an investment–of money, of infrastructure, of talent–and now it’s all gone. And they had 3 other stores in New York City.

As I mentioned earlier, Syms/Filene’s Basement closed its doors in early January. Here’s an example of what that looks like here in New York City:


It’s a bit difficult to tell in the photos but the entire block is now empty of retailers, except a small Zales store located in the center. Aside from it, Syms/Filene’s Basement was the only occupant of the space. Overall, Syms had 2 locations in New York City.

Fortunately, this isn’t a permanent condition. Just a few blocks away from the former Syms/Filene’s Basement site I saw this storefront being renovated for its grand opening in the near future:


Failing businesses are more than than numbers. They represent empty storefronts and a change in the complexion of a neighborhood. They represent people out of work and increased anxiety on the part of those who have to find a new purpose in an uncertain economy. On the flip side, new and expanding businesses represent a chance to add economic and social value. They contribute in obvious and not so obvious ways, from the way a new big box store impacts commuter traffic flow, to how and where we interact with each other (think Starbucks).

While you may or may not agree that, to paraphrase Mitt Romney, that businesses are people too, you can’t deny that they are still composed of them. How these businesses manage the different stages of their existence, from grand opening to shutting its door for a final time, says a lot about how it values those that worked for it, as well as the geographic areas they exist within. 

I wish my colleagues good luck in their transition, and hope the next tenants will be good additions to its respective neighborhoods.

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