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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No Frills

You wake up one morning and something or somethings are different - like the morning of 9/11. I've been through recessions, but not like this one. I recently spoke to one of the suppliers for my business - Quebecor World - the second largest printer in the world. Sales were down 35% in 2008 and they owe $735 million on revolving credit. We have a wave of bankruptcies - Circuit City closing 155 stores, Sharper Image, Linens 'n Things... These are household names and really big numbers - stores closing, percentage of sales down, money owed.
Certainly the media does not help, and I don't want to add fuel to the fire. But you make assumptions. Like National Wholesale Liquidators will be there forever. I thought bankruptcy lawyers and discount retailers were supposed to be the survivors in a faltering economy.
But the New York Times reported in November 2008 that National Wholesale Liquidators was filing for bankruptcy and closing nearly all their stores. So I was shocked this week to find closing signs with announcements of a 90% off sale. Now these kinds of discounts are frequently touted but rarely to be seen, but the 90% off was real - $2.99 items selling for 29 cents. It was a real fire sale - by the time I got there, nearly an entire store was stripped clean. See the interior here - amazing.
This store served the needs of many. Everyone I know had been in at one time or another to purchase something from the inventory of 120,00 items. They carried many brand name closeouts. Food could be found, along with hardware, electronics, housewares, clothing, paper goods, etc.
There was no charm in this store or ambiance whatsoever. In fact a spokesman for the company said:

"Contrary to most chains, the store pays no attention to presentation, or to customer expectations, but only to what can be bought on the world market most cheaply. 'We buy closeouts, end runs, overruns, imports,' [chain spokesman] Pidgeon said. "When someone makes 5,000 cases too many of a product, we buy it. Those cases end up in piles on the concrete sales floor."

Yet somehow the complete lack of charm was their charm. No chills, no thrills, no frills...

About the Company: National Wholesale Liquidators is based in Hempstead, New York. It was founded in 1984 by Eva Rosen and remained a family owned business (Carl, Eva Rosen and their children). The company had over 50 stores in 12 states with nearly 2000 employees. Reasons for closing were a cut in their credit line ($15 million cut by General Electric) and declining consumer sales.

12 comments:

naomid said...

Another one bites the dust! What goes in next? Or does it stay empty this time?

ChickenUnderwear said...

I figured a place like that would thrive in this economy.

I live in Park Slope and we all jumped for joy when a discount store moved into a place vacated by a national drug store chain. I hope it thrives. Not just for sentimental reasons, but sometimes you need a spaghetti strainer and a dozen sponges each for 99 cents.

Brian Dubé said...

ChickenUnderwear - Yes, it seems that regardless of how quality oriented a person is, from time to time one needs or wants something found in a discount store.

Christopher said...

Love it. We're all over this story!

http://going-out-of-business.blogspot.com/

Gaurav said...

NO NO NO!

I worked at 594 Broadway for 2 years and that meant making numerous runs to the "shit store". I know exactly what you mean when you say, "Yet somehow the complete lack of charm was their charm. No chills, no thrills, no frills ..."

Anonymous said...

The word"liquidator"seems weird for an English word. Please could
you explain Its roots? Are they the French words"liquide"and
"liquider"? I understand the sad meaning nevertheless, in Englih and
in French.
Thanks in advance for your answer

Anonymous said...

Hey ChickenUnderwear - 5th ave in BK may be my favorite mecca for cheapy stores. 9ths street and up to the 20's. I can't imagine what people in Manhattan are gonna do when all the good stores are in the boroughs.

Paul said...

It is always I think sad to see an established company go under. Here in the UK Woolworths shut forever a few weeks back, everyone I spoke to had been a shopper there at one time or another and we all will miss it.
I like no frills, I much prefer a good deal and I really do not care if it is just stacked on the floor.
Have to say I like your blog, more than just a photo.

heterogenius said...

Sad. What a tragedy this place is out. The Broadway Houston location saved me $ for years. You could find everything you needed...and a bunch of stuff you def didnt need

• Eliane • said...

That is surprising indeed. I've never been in such a store, always felt very uncomfortable with the idea of a store making money off the misery of other businesses.

ChickenUnderwear said...

On no Eliane. Many of the products for sale in stores like that were created for stores like that. Mega-corporations want to sell as much stuff as they can, to as many people as they can.

Leann said...

Its so convenient and good. We love this place and people there.

A mom from the bizymoms Hempstead community.
http://www.bizymoms.com/hempstead/index.php