Vanity files bankruptcy, stores in Pocatello and Idaho Falls to close

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Vanity, a clothing store in the Pine Ridge Mall at Chubbuck, will close soon after the company filed for bankruptcy. All 137 Vanity stores will close around the end of March. | Doug Lindley, Idaho State Journal

POCATELLO — The decline in traditional brick and mortar shopping dealt another blow to the Pine Ridge Mall this month after women’s fashion retailer Vanity recently announced it will close all 137 of its stores.

The local store began its going out of business sale on March 3, according to President and CEO Mickey Quinn. All regular priced items at the store are 40-60 percent off as of March 18.

“Although stores come and go in the retail industry, we have all benefited from Vanity’s positive influence in both the mall and the Pocatello/Chubbuck community,” said general manager of the Pine Ridge Mall, Tia Lloyd. “Pine Ridge Mall’s leasing team is currently negotiating with interested businesses from around the region to lease Vanity’s space and to join us in bringing value to the community.”

Despite surviving in the mall for nearly a decade, the Fargo, North Dakota-based clothing store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 1 and will shut down all of its stores in 27 states.

Vanity’s closure marks the latest casualty in consumer trends toward using e-commerce to fulfill more of their shopping needs.

“We have been experiencing the same down trend in traffic that every other retailer has been experiencing for the past several years,” Quinn said. “Mall traffic is down overall and the power of the consumer is speaking loudly that they are very happy to shop online and it is making it difficult for brick and mortar retail stores to survive in this new environment.”

The way consumers shop is evolving and according to Absolunet, an eCommerce and digital marketing agency, several new trends will turn heads in the cyber-commerce community in 2017.

This includes replacing Black Friday and Cyber Monday with Cyber November — an entire month dedicated to blockbuster sales. Also, Absolunet predicts carrying a wallet could soon become something of the past, as mobile, wearables and other payment-enabled tech ushers in the beginning of the end for the need to constantly carry cash.

And no longer do pre-recorded, unintelligent customer service voice representatives prevent consumers from engaging in digital purchases, with many businesses and retailers saying hello to artificial intelligence in which smart voice-reps are capable of understanding complex sentences.

“In 2015, online sales of physical goods amounted to 294.45 billion US dollars and are projected to surpass 485 billion US dollars in 2021 (and) apparel and accessories retail e-commerce in the U.S. is projected to generate a hundred billion U.S. dollars in revenue by 2019,” according to Statista, an online statistics company.

The footprint of Vanity is heavily concentrated in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio; and the company is primarily a mall-based retailer. Tiger Capital Group is conducting the going-out-of-business sale for the firm.

“The company’s difficult decision to close all stores is emblematic of the pressures facing mall-based specialty apparel retailers in the wake of ever-increasing competition from big-box ‘fast-fashion’ chains and e-commerce sites,” said Michael McGrail, chief operating officer of Tiger Group, in a statement.

“Despite Vanity’s closure, we are excited about future arrivals of local and national businesses at the Pine Ridge Mall,” Lloyd said.

Vanity isn’t the only business affected by a downward shift in people loading up the SUV for a full day of shopping at brick and mortar stores, with several others announcing a reduction in physical store fronts.

Last month, J.C. Penney announced it would shutter between 130 and 140 stores in the coming months. And in January, Macy’s announced it would close 100 locations, while Sears said it would slash 150. Dillard’s and Kohl’s made similar cutbacks in recent years.

And on Friday, RadioShack, which filed for bankruptcy for the second time last week, announced the closing of 552 of its stores, which will affect 36 percent of the total number of store fronts.

Of the total 137 Vanity stores closing across the nation, the store located in the Pine Ridge Mall was number 70, something Quinn said was indicative of how long this store remained open.

“We anticipate operating through the end of March, but we’re not sure how many stores will last beyond that,” Quinn said. “I want to say a warm thank you from Vanity to all our past and current customers and to the business community to thank them for their partnership over the years.”

She continued, “I wish the very best to those who showed us patronage and really would love to place our employees, because the store employees are phenomenal, at other local businesses in surrounding areas.”

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