Another Blow For The Shops At Nanuet
Vera Bradley at The Shops of Nanuet will close its doors on Sunday. An employee who has worked there for several years said she is sad but not surprised.
“Foot traffic has dropped and Simon (the mall owner) has not done anything to keep us here,” she said. “Sunday is our last day.”
Vera Bradley, the lifestyle store known for its quilted bags, is not the only victim of withering foot traffic at the The Shops at Nanuet. The Vera Bradley employee said nearby retailers including The Limited and L’Octaine, have shuttered. Many other brands are struggling.
Last year Fairway Market closed its Nanuet Store, saying food traffic had dissipated.
“Based on the closure of other retailers within The Shops at Nanuet, the store was not receiving the foot traffic we once experienced,” said Abel Porter, CEO at Fairway Market. “This is an isolated business decision in which we will reinvest resources into our existing stores in order to continue the forward movement of the Fairway brand.” Nevertheless, there are recent reports that indicate Fairway may be heading for bankruptcy, again.
The Vera Bradley employee, who prefers to remain anonymous, said when the store first opened it did well. “It was strong at first,” she said. “It was novel. But it has not been sustainable. We’re not the only one.”
Many point to the closing of Macy’s, Sears, and most recently Fairway, as a catalyst for the downward spiral.
By 2021, Vera Bradley will be closing nearly half of its stores, 50 out of its 110 locations. Factory outlets are said to be staying open, and the company will still be selling their products to places like Bed Bath and Beyond and Hallmark.
Vera Bradley is a lifestyle brand that is known for its playful patterns on quilted bags. The company has attracted an almost cult-like following for its cotton handbags, backpacks and wallets which are often splashed with every kind of paisley pattern imaginable.
For nearly four decades, the company has unabashedly embraced the paisley print even as other retailers rushed to stock more Millennial-friendly items. It has championed bright, bold prints on its bags because it made sense for the customer it was courting. The typical Vera Bradley shopper is the working mom, 40 to 60.
Vera Bradley sales at stores open at least a year fell 10.3% in 2018.
The company operates about 150 stores – some in mall locations, other in outlet centers – and sells on its website. Online sales fell nearly 25% in 2018 over the year before.
Vera Bradley, like so many chains, is looking for a way to hold onto its existing base while appealing to a younger shopper. Vera Bradley CEO Robert Wallstrom said the company is pivoting by investing in products and fabrics that skew to a younger consumer. Last year the brand rolled out a new collection of bags made with water-resistant cotton, bearing a more polished look with pattern-free solids in the mix.
Last July, the company bought a majority stake in Creative Genius, owner of Pura Vida. The online brand, popular with Millennials and Gen Z, markets itself as a socially conscious brand with sustainable fabrics.