by Karen Alberg Grossman
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I received this letter from a menswear retailer today, typical of many who have asked the same questions over the past several weeks. I know some brands are thinking creatively about ways to help specialty stores in this time of desperation but we need everyone on board to save these independent stores that are the heart and soul of their communities, and of our industry. Stantt is in the process of organizing Shop for a Shop, a way for multiple brands to kick back a percentage of their online sales to specialty stores. I just learned from Eton that they’ve loaded 100 percent of their inventory onto their B2B site so retailers and their customers can browse product, enter their fit and size, and have access to more than 800 shirts and 650 accessory styles, all at a 10 percent discount.

Here’s the retailer letter, expressing the thoughts and fears of many. I would love to know thoughts from both sides of the table, on or off the record. You can respond here or to karen.alberg@wainscotmedia.com.

“We are certainly navigating uncharted waters with this pandemic situation we are in. While we are all uncertain about our futures, we are struggling to find some light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re like me and many other retailers, we do not have an abundance of cash. What comes in the front door goes out the back door rather quickly in the form of invoices, rent, payroll, utilities, etc. With a limited amount of cash and our doors closed for an indefinite period of time, how do we juggle those payments? Hopefully, your landlord is compassionate enough to give you some breathing room. Utilities should be a bit less with the doors closed. As for payroll, we are all making some painful decisions.

“Now, about invoices: Early on I contacted all vendors about canceling the balance of spring and asked for either a discount or dating on current spring invoices. Many have responded favorably as good partners should. Many have either buried their heads in the sand or have been unable to formulate a plan of action. Here is my plan of action: those ‘first responders’ will be the first to receive payments. There is simply not enough available money to go around. While this may not be the best solution, until our doors are open again, I see no other choice. Due dates be damned!”


  1. To my dear friends in the retail industry, please know we are all in the same boat. Small independents who invest their life, time, personal savings, blood, sweat and tears into a most competitive industry. Whose passions and excitement are seeing and touching on great new ideas …and now figuring out how to continue in a most positive productive way.
    This crisis, we are all in. I don’t believe any of us know exactly what to do to get through. But I do know Retailers, Vendors, and Mills- are all connected and we cannot break this chain. Its a heavy load for us all to pay, but we must. My passions will continue to design and create limited unique collections showing a wow factor that is needed; and to be ready for us consumers (I am also a consumer!) when we get out again, with excitement and a need to feel and look our best.

  2. I love the expression, “We are all in the same boat.” What happens when a big boat (like the Titanic) is sinking? Do you honestly think that everyone in that boat is going to experience a rescue in the same way? Many will not survive. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Those are the facts.

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