Mixed Message

As another favorite shop closes its doors, it hurts so good to save so big

April 21, 2009

Two of the top headlines on this morning were “Retail Recovery Still Months Away” and “Ten Things to Buy Before the Economy Improves.” Oy.

No, I haven’t gone over to the dark side (in this post from January I explained that my husband reads financial news sites and lefty politico rants while I somewhat sheepishly browse style blogs), but in my world, the top headline yesterday was—sit down, get ready for it—Polite Society is Closing Its Doors, so this morning I’ve been opening his bookmarks instead of mine, trying to understand how and when all of this is going to end.

It’s an impossible question of course, and in the meantime, we have other ones to ask and answer.

As of May 15, Eric Akines’s Polite Society will be gone. Until then, you’ll have the opportunity to score deep, wildly unfair discounts on brand new spring pieces by Catherine Malandrino, Ports 1961, Brian Reyes, Mel en Stel and more, as well as already discounted sale merchandise, home decor and accessories, and the amazing bazaar-meets-the-drawing-room furnishings that Akines and his crew used to make the shop so luxuriously comfortable and homey. Discounts begin today at 40% off everything; the bargains will only get more insane as the last day draws near.

Chatting with store manager Anna Sharp yesterday, she acknowledged that sensitive shoppers often feel uncomfortable swooping in and taking advantage of such sales. I’ll say. It’s an odd kind of buyer’s remorse; there you are in front of your mirror admiring the hang of a pair of slacks that cost you less than what the retailer paid to get them into his or her shop. Huh? It’s hard to feel entirely awesome about looking so good while retailers are doing so poorly.

Anna’s point, however, was that retailers wouldn’t discount so deeply if they didn’t need to move the items and infuse their cash drawers with some dough. So the take-away is that it does help and it’s okay to take advantage of this sideways economy. But it’s better, of course, to support your favorite retailers by buying at full price. Eric, Anna, and Ben: You will be so missed. When we reported in this space a few weeks ago that the men’s collection at the shop would be no more, I wonder if we should have known then what would be happening now. If you’re like me, you’re looking at all your favorite shops right now, and feeling a little afraid to ask how bad bad has become.

And here’s my biggest concern: Are we becoming, in a sense, spoiled? Or at least retrained; taught not to buy at full price because, afterall, just about everything goes on sale sooner or later anymore. Are our ideas about what fair and normal prices are sliding down a hill—have they jumped off a cliff? Assuming this whole mess rights itself eventually, will consumers be willing to pay full price, on a regular and consistent basis, ever again?

Of course I have no answers to these questions. I’m guessing you don’t either — it’s all still so weird and unknown. But you have ideas and opinions and your own experiences to share, and I hope that you will do that here.

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