Closing down: What does it mean when luxury shops start closing?


I had an appointment in Minneapolis on Tuesday. Patrick took me over, and I came back via bus. This meant I was in downtown Minneapolis, which is crowded and busy, full of people and shops and restaurants — at least in comparison with downtown St. Paul, which is famously empty.

Changing buses, I went past the Godiva shop in the IDS building. Or rather, I went into the shop and bought some chocolate mint truffle bars. The shop guy told me they were closing down in a week or so, and there would be no Godiva shops in downtown Minneapolis. So I bought more chocolate mint truffle bars.

This reminded me that the Nieman Marcus in downtown Minneapolis was closing, so I went there to see if there were any deals. There weren’t. The store is not closing till year-end.

The Bloomingdale’s at the Mall of America, which has been there since the Mall opened, has closed. There is one Crabtree & Evelyn shop left in the state of Minnesota, and they used to be scattered throughout the many local malls.

I don’t follow the business news, so I can’t be sure, but I think we are seeing the effect of the long recession of depression since the 2008 crash. Chains that made it through 2008 are one by one cutting back or closing completely, as Border’s did.

When a business fails, we are told there were management failures. When it succeeds, we are told the managers are genuises. However, in the war of all against all which is capitalism, some have to win and others have to lose. Often, it’s a matter of luck.

That given, general economic conditions will influence success and failure. A lot of companies succeed in a boom economy. A lot fail in a recession or depression.

What interests me is the kind of stores that are closing. Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Godiva and Crabtree & Evelyn are all, to one extent or another, upscale — the kind of places middle class people might go to for a luxury purchase and where upper middle class might shop regularly. (I think the seriously rich fly to New York or Paris to shop.) The poor and ordinary working people are not likely to be customers in these places, certainly not at Neiman Marcus. I walk in there in my jeans and tee shirt, and the shop people look at me, and I feel about an inch tall.

But the Nieman Marcus store in downtown Minneapolis, which has been there for years, is closing.

What does this tell us about the economy?