Fall shopping can't really start until one final event from the previous season happens, The Barneys Warehouse Sale. It started yesterday, which is a little odd because if this had been any other year in the recent past, it would have started a week ago. As we mentioned earlier this Summer, the folks at Barneys have seen fit to trim one of its most popular events by a week. At the time, we were wondering how the sale would clear out so much merchandise in far less time, and now we know the answer. There isn't as much stuff to sell anymore, and we don't think that there will be too many more of these events.
First the good news, The men's and women's merchandise have migrated back to their respective natural habitats. All women's items are back on the main floor and men's is all in the basement where we spent most of our time. Returning to the original layout allowed us to note just how little merchandise was out on the first day. Where in the past there had been cramped shelves upon shelves, there are now wide open spaces. From what we can gather, there is about 30% to 40% less merchandise in most categories downstairs than seasoned Warehouse Sale shoppers have come to expect. To make matters worse, what hung from the packed sportshirt racks looked awfully familiar, and while they did contain some Spring 2011 goods, they were also padded with items clearly from earlier seasons. For example, we found several Rugger and Gant by Michael Bastian shirts, but all of them were from last Fall or before —as clearly marked by the telltale labels which Gant changes every season. In the past, Barneys has often boosted its Warehouse Sale inventory with off-price goods from some of its regular vendors and a few comparable ones as well. This made the sale a big profit center for the company as it often attracted customers who may never have bothered to shop in Barneys' full priced stores, but were hungry for bargains. There was little sign of such merchandise this season, unless it was left over from a previous sale. Some sections, like men's shoes, offered particularly pitiful selections, and there was a general sense of spareness on the entire floor. Are there good things to be had at the sale? Sure, there's always something for the patient, sharp-eyed shopper, but the finds are fewer and farther between.
We breezed through the far more frenzied women's floor to check out the small Chelsea Passage section, and while it was too hectic to discern a difference in merchandise levels up there, the rear wall which in the past had been covered with women's shoe shelves was completely bare. Obviously there was less to present in that department as well.
Last season there was speculation that Barneys' new management was looking to end the Warehouse Sale altogether. It doesn't seem to fit with the new, updated image they are working furiously to create. We figured that they would probably keep it going if it continued to make money, but seeing it shortened, with less merchandise to offer, we can only guess that this is the beginning of the sale's phase-out, so enjoy it while it lasts. It doesn't seem long for the city.
The Barneys Warehouse Sale runs through Monday, September 5th at 255 West 17th Street between Seventh & Eighth Avenues
Warehouse Report: This Season's Barneys Warehouse Sale To Be A Week Shorter (7.28.2011)
The Reasons Why The Barneys Warehouse Sale May End ...And Why It Might Not (3.15.2011)