by Barry Wishnow
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Retailers who are dependent on brands are going to be in trouble. Somewhere along the way, merchants forgot why their customers came into their stores. Instead of promoting all that they give to the community, they decided to believe that their image was enhanced by the brands they carry, rather than vice versa.

The party is over. Brands will be forced to do everything they can do to get direct to your customers. They have no choice. There’s really very few stores left to sell. Barney’s is gone, Neiman’s is going into chapter 11, not to mention all that are already gone. Brands are realizing that they don’t need the pressure of returns and markdown allowances, particularly from those customers that buy very little to start with. A company like Zegna will become very tough competition for those specialty stores that remain.

After this horrible period of our lives fades away, small specialty retailers better rethink how they’re going to move forward. If you can’t get customers into your store because of your service, community involvement, relationships and limited distribution collections, you’re done. It’s time to become creative merchants and stop being followers.

Barry Wishnow is an industry leader and consultant; he can be reached at


  1. Perfectly said Barry. I’ve been warning about this very issue for many years, but it has taken this pandemic to push the envelope.
    For many it will be too late.

    The survivors will be vendor shops, merchant driven specialty independent retailers, and made to measure /custom/ private label businesses.

    The Schmatalogist

  2. I totally agree Barry. In the rush to protect their brands, many will not hesitate to throw their loyal retailers under the bus. On the other hand, the ones that resist the urge, and emerge as real partners, should be keepers.

  3. I’ve been following those principles since 1993 at the same location. First as Paul Daniels ,then 7 years ago in partnership with Fashion Concepts under the Marcello Sport banner.
    I deal with vendors who sell to independent retailers such as myself.
    If vendors are big national and international companies. I don’t want them unless they can guarantee me exclusivity on what I purchase and allow me the discounts that they give the department stores. So that leaves most of those vendors out.
    I have always concentrated selling the store,not the brand. We give excellent customer service,free tailoring,shipping, free local delivery and we never charge for special orders.
    I have always tried to develop close relationships with customers and vendors alike,and they keep coming back.
    A generation ago I wouldn’t have stood out,but with a dearth of independents left. Marcello Sport is special in customers eyes.
    Our customers have always complemented us on our housekeeping,selection and caring service.
    Most of the national department store are only 1 step away from being discounters. Marcello Sport on the other hand runs one sale a year and that is to our loyal customers who continue to support us.
    Marcello Sport Fort Lauderdale Florida.

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