The Demise of Dean and Deluca…and Barneys
I read about Dean and Deluca not paying their bills and having some financial problems. I still remember the first store on Prince St. They then moved to the larger space on Broadway. The concept of this incredibly well curated food store that also recreated the neighborhood intimacy that stores had in the past. Over time they tried new things from restaurants to pop-up take-away lunch spots. So smart, so new, so creative.
I walked in to their Soho shop this week which confirmed what I had read. The shelves were mostly empty. There was no fruit, no sushi, no bread, basically nothing but some cheese left in the case. They were still serving food that was made to buy that day like farro salads and pieces of chicken but otherwise it was obvious that their days were numbered.
One one hand it made me sad but on the other hand there has been no real change there in a long time. The food is ridiculously overpriced and just meh. The curation of the products had always been good but if they drilled down on their numbers it is more than likely the pre-made food is outselling everything else. Places like Whole Foods are seeing that too.
Just like all the other brick and mortar retailers, digging into the data, and seeing the future is key or least testing some new concepts. There are other closings or bankruptcies coming like Barneys. Blaming it on the cost of rent is not an answer particularly in the case of Barneys. There is zero innovation at that store. The same merchandise they carry is carried everywhere else. The store has been redesigned to look like something from the 80’s. Nothing is inspiring. A store that I was so awed by when I first got to NYC that sat on 7th Avenue and 17th street to a store that I shake my head when I go into now.
When we got to the city in the early 80’s I was so inspired by the street and the stores. No longer. It is time for change and if you can’t change then you go under. Unfortunately Dean and Deluca and Barneys will not be alone in the next roll of closings. And the reality is they don’t deserve to survive.