This marks the last holiday season for at least four local retail stores.
Steve & Barry’s, Linens ’n Things, Value City and Club Libby Lu have all announced plans to liquidate their inventories and go out of business.
The atmosphere in the four stores varied noticeably this week. At Steve & Barry’s, it seemed like business as usual. The clothing racks and bins in the 50,000-square-foot store were generally filled with clothes, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, coats and pants.
Larger-than-life photos of Sarah Jessica Parker, Stephon Marbury and Venus Williams still loomed above shoppers. A few large yellow, red and black signs at the front of the store announced: “Our Biggest Liquidation Event Ever!!!” But there was no mention of closing or going out of business.
Across the Glenbrook Commons parking lot, the clearance vibe at Linens ’n Things was ratcheted up several notches. Again, the signs were in yellow, red and black. But the messages had a far more urgent tone.
Signs posted throughout the store read: “Going Out Of Business.” “Everything Must Go.” “Everything At Least 25 Percent To 50 Percent Off.” “Fixtures, Furniture And Equipment For Sale. See Store Manager For Details.”
The store had marked curtains down by 40 percent, lamps by 30 percent and Yankee candles by 25 percent. Some shelves were empty and others were piled with store fixtures for sale.
The atmosphere was similar at Value City, where numerous shelves at the back of the store were empty and the clothing racks were sparsely filled with shirts and pants. According to posted signs, everything was marked down 25 percent at Value City, and cashiers were subtracting an additional 10 percent at the registers.
Richard Feinberg, a retail management professor at Purdue University and a researcher with the Purdue Retail Institute, said the retailer will probably have to lower its prices considerably before the liquidation sale is over to get bargain shoppers truly excited.
“Even 50 percent off – which would have gotten our hearts beating two years ago – isn’t doing it anymore,” he said.
Value City, 1130 Coliseum Blvd. N., doesn’t accept its own credit card anymore. Neither does Linens ’n Things.
At Club Libby Lu, inside Glenbrook Square, the atmosphere was subdued this week. Yellow and purple signs in the windows told shoppers this is the “Final Blow Out Sale! 25 Percent To 85 Percent Off Entire Store. Everything Must Go!” A sign near the register said the chain’s stores will close by the end of January.
Club Libby Lu, owned by New York-based Saks Inc., is a place where tweens go for dress-up parties and experiment with makeup, costumes and hairstyles. The shelves were mostly full of princess costumes, Jonas Brothers cosmetics bags and Hannah Montana perfume.
Eusebia Prudencio was shopping at Value City this week, where she picked up a bedspread and continued looking for bargains on “whatever. Maybe some furniture.”
The Fort Wayne woman, the mother of two, is sad the discount department store is closing. She typically buys clothes, shoes and housewares there.
“They have very good prices,” she said.
Jennifer Schug and her mother drove from Portland to Fort Wayne for some Christmas shopping this week. Steve & Barry’s, which has always sold most items for $10 or less, was one of their stops.
“We come here every time we come to Fort Wayne,” she said.
With two growing boys and a husband to clothe, Schug wondered aloud where she’ll find comparable prices on shirts and pants after the discounter closes.