Commentary

Pier 1 Says It's Time To Close Up All Shops

Unable to find a buyer after filing for bankruptcy shortly before COVID-19 upended brick-and-mortar retail, Pier 1 will close its remaining 541 storefronts. It shut down about 450 locations in January and filed for Chapter 11 the following month.

As recently as three weeks ago, Pier 1 told U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Va., that it hoped to reopen a “critical mass” of its stores by June 1. Now it says it will run going-out-of-business sales online and ASAP at locations that “are able to reopen following the government-mandated closures.

“The retailer is abandoning efforts to emerge from bankruptcy as a viable business after lenders that had explored taking it over backed away, leaving Pier 1 with no choice but to shut down for good, according to court papers,” Aisha Al-Muslim and Colin Kellaher write  for The Wall Street Journal.

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It will continue to try to sell its intellectual property and ecommerce business.

“This decision follows months of working to identify a buyer who would continue to operate our business going forward. Unfortunately, the challenging retail environment has been significantly compounded by the profound impact of COVID-19, hindering our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down,” Robert Riesbeck, Pier 1’s CEO and CFO states in a release announcing the decision.

The headline above Larry Light’s analysis for Forbes says it all: “Pier 1 Imports: From Hippie To Hip To Hell.”

“The Pier 1 Imports demise is not a story about the coronavirus killing a brand. The Pier 1 Imports saga is a cautionary tale about ignoring elemental brand-business principles: a sad story of bad brand-business mismanagement that began years before the coronavirus came ashore. Pier 1 Imports’ road to Chapter 11 proceedings was paved with violations of some fundamental principles of marketing,” Light writes.

He later elaborates on the “three fundamental brand-business principles Pier 1 Imports violated leading to its downfall.”

    • Know your competition
    • Know your brand’s value
    • Know and love your customers

Then there’s you know who.

“The retailer was struggling against the rise of Amazon and Wayfair, which made shopping for the home online easy. At the same time, Target and Walmart grew their own home decor and furniture footprints,” Sara DiNatale observes  for Tampa Bay Times.

“Pier 1 was founded in 1962 in San Mateo, Calif., and moved to Fort Worth in 1966, becoming one of the largest U.S. home furnishings specialty stores with 1,100 locations and sales of nearly $2 billion. For generations, particularly for the baby boomers, it was the go-to store for adding a layer of personal style to a dorm room, new apartment or house,” Maria Halkias writes for  The Dallas Morning News.

“Pier 1 graduated from its original beanbag and Papasan chairs, love beads and incense -- its peace and love days -- to offering unique home furnishings and decorative accessories under its own private label. In the 1990s, it opened stores in the U.K. and boutiques inside Sears stores in Mexico. Pier 1 shut down its online business in 2007 to focus on stores, which at that point were in need of a turnaround. Pier1.com relaunched in 2012. That gap online, just as Americans were gravitating to shopping even more from home, was one decision that some say hurt the retailer,” Halkias adds.

“In January, Pier 1 said it planned to close up to 450 stores, or nearly half of its locations. It then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February,” Kelly Tyko reports for USA Today.

“Pier 1 is currently accepting orders on its website and said it will ‘initiate store closing efforts and liquidation sales once store locations can reopen,” as early as tomorrow, Tyko continues.

If you’re looking to get out into the invigorating spring air on the patio, terrace or rooftop, People’s Summer Cartwright runs down some of the bargains available on the Pier 1 website.

“Currently, all outdoor furniture is on sale for 40% off (or more). This deal includes three-piece and five-piece patio sets that typically retail for $565 and $830, and now cost $339 and $498 respectively,” Cartwright writes. Then there’s “Buy It! 9’ Red Steel Umbrella, $59.99 (orig. $99.99).”

There’s one thing to keep in mind.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission,” reads a caveat above the story.

People, launched by Time Inc. in 1974, was purchased by Meredith in 2017.

As David Sciulli writes  in Corporate Power in Civil Society: An Application of Societal Constitutionalism, “In its heyday, Time magazine editors and reporters took considerable pride in the company’s corporate policy of separating ‘church and state,’ editorial divisions and business divisions.”

As the Pier 1 events signify, heydays come and go.

 

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