Saturday, July 12, 2008

Steve & Barry's, Say It Ain't So!

Steve Shore, Barry Prevor,

Tell us Steve and Barry’s isn’t in bankruptcy. Tell us that it won’t sail through Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 and liquidation. Tell us that you two didn’t take about $160 million out a short time ago just for yourselves. Tell us that Steve and Barry’s really wasn’t an exercise in creative accounting. Tell us that you haven’t stiffed scores of small vendors, advertisers, and builders, who may also go out of business because they trusted you. Tell us what is going to happen to 7,000 employees, including the students working their way through college.

Tell us that you didn’t fall a year behind in paying the Michigan Daily $20,326 for ads in the student newspaper. Tell us that universities such as Purdue and Michigan haven’t cut off your licensing rights to manufacture apparel with their trademarks. We know that Linen’n Things, Sharper Image, and Lillian Vernon recently entered bankruptcy, but tell us that you’re not another Crazy Eddie’s, Krispy Kreme, Adelphia, Global Crossing, or Enron. Tell us that you haven’t been opening stores (200 in the past 4 years) on a pace that seemingly rivals Starbucks and Subway.

Tell us how you could blow through a $200 million line of credit from GE since March.

We really wanted to believe that you had brought real competition to the previously overpriced sporting goods market.

We believed you when you explained that you could sell quality branded college and professional shirts for $10 and $14.98 Stephon Marbury sneakers (Take that Air Jordan!) because you mastered the arcane science of “tariff engineering.” We believed your Mumbai headquarters could make a profit manufacturing clothes in such exotic locales as Lesotho and Malawi without using sweatshops.

Did Purdue terminate your contract because of poor quality?

And did the University of Michigan, for whom your parent company, 4004 Inc., is the largest licensee, terminate the agreement for failure to pay the licensing fees? The Ann Arbor store was a gold mine. Tell us how you blew it.

We believed you when you modeled your business plan on WalMart’s high volume, low margin success.

We knew it was too good to be true, but wanted to believe. We were puzzled when your Orange County, California store did not stock any USC merchandise, but carried UMass.

Is it true that major landlords were so desperate to get you into their vacant big stores that they advanced you $2-7 million/store to come into their malls? How can it be that the landlord pays the tenant, and the tenant still loses money?

Finally, tell us the names of your accountants, for they too will be sued.

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