Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Globe Hand-Me-Downs

You will Thrive in them!

"2nd Time Around founder tries a 3rd act with throwback streetwear" by Janelle Nanos Globe Staff  May 14, 2018

This is Jeffrey Casler’s third time around.

After a seven-year hiatus, the founder and CEO of the 2nd Time Around chain of consignment stores is back at 176 Newbury St., occupying the same location that served as the company’s flagship for over two decades, but instead of preppy Lilly Pulitzer threads, J.Crew cardigans, and coveted Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses, a distinctly different vibe exists in his newest venture, Thrive Exchange.

The new store’s focus is streetwear, and with racks of mostly 1980s- and ’90s-era clothing, it’s far more of a niche approach to secondhand retail. Casler pays upfront for the items he purchases, such as vintage Air Jordans and throwback Nike windbreakers. And he buys from collectors who are trendsetters on social media, with a portion of the profits going to charity.

Resale is one of fastest-growing sectors in retail, and one that’s rapidly evolving. Casler watched last year as the company he built into a national chain imploded after years of mismanagement, with all of its nearly 30 stores abruptly closing.

On the day Newbury Street Thrive Exchange opened last month, the store was packed with teens and twentysomethings grabbing Champion sweat shirts, Supreme hoodies, and Starter jackets as if it were 1994. A Tupac Shakur memorial T-shirt, circa 1996, was selling for $425.

Amber Jackson approached the register with an armful of Kappa zip-up jackets.

“I used to watch the Spice Girls, and this was all Sporty Spice wore,” said Jackson, who had traveled from Connecticut to be at Thrive’s opening.

“This is like a thrift store but just all the good stuff that you’re always looking for,” said Emma Jannino, a freshman at Lesley University.

“There is no store like this on Newbury Street,” said Casler, who opened the outlet as a pop-up but plans to extend his lease through the end of the year. “We’re on trend and setting the trend.”

Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst with Forrester Research, said Casler’s approach takes advantage of the boost that social-media influencers can give to brands. And it builds on the marketing tactics, like limited-issue releases, that athletic streetwear brands have always used to drive up demand.

Just as long as they don't try to influence an election, 'eh? 

Look at this. Social media influencers. 

What they mean is promoters and propagandists.

“Streetwear is just really hot right now. It is probably one of the few places where younger consumers are spending,” she said.

Casler said the consignment industry has changed dramatically in the four decades since his mother, Dottie, opened the first Second Time Around store in Newton in 1973, but Casler believed that fashion’s increasing emphasis on pricey labels would eventually persuade shoppers to turn to resale. He took over the company, opening its Newbury Street flagship in 1990. In its heyday, he’d prowl the aisles of upscale boutiques and department stores, so he knew how to price itemsfor resale when they eventually arrived in his stores. While other retailers struggled through the economic downturn, he profited from a surge in interest in secondhand clothing. By 2009, he had 22 locations nationally and $8 million in annual sales.

Casler, now 54, has lived with multiple sclerosis for three decades, and he said he decided to sell the company to the private equity firm Generation Equity Investors in 2011 to focus on his health, but he couldn’t stay out of the game. Because he’d signed a noncompete clause, he had to head north, to Toronto, where he ran another consignment store, Kind Exchange, for several years.

Casler returned to the Boston area in 2016, opening the first Thrive Exchange in Davis Square. Then, last year, he watched from the outside as 2nd Time Around collapsed, leaving longtime consigners enraged, because many were owed thousands of dollars.

Ultimately, Casler said, 2nd Time Around’s upscale pivot was ill-timed. While full-price retailers across the United States are struggling, off-price and resale stores are actually growing, according to a report released last year by Fung Global Retail & Technology.

Re-commerce is currently one of the fastest-growing sectors in retail,” according to the report.

Like a middleman taking a cut?

Shoppers under 35 — who have a penchant for bargain-hunting, want unique wardrobes, and care more about the environmental impact that secondhand merchandise can help offset — are driving the trend. 

I love how they pigeonhole everyone in some demographic.

Newer websites are also driving secondhand sales: Peer-to-peer marketplaces including Poshmark and sites such as ThredUp and the RealReal have made consigning online far easier and enjoyable than their predecessors. Fung estimated the total market for both brick-and-mortar and online reselling would almost double in five years, from $18 billion in 2016 to $33 billion in 2021.

ThredUp’s own research, published in its annual Resale Report this year, found 44 million women shopped secondhand in 2017, up from 35 million the year before. And 71 percent of its shoppers said they plan to spend more on resale shopping in the next five years.

Lauren Beitelspacher, a marketing professor at Babson College, said that Casler’s decision to harness the power of online influencers on social media was a smart strategic move.

“It’s really brilliant. If he’s getting these micro-influencers to vouch for him, that’s unbelievable,”  Beitelspacher said. “A middle-aged man coming from traditional consignment isn’t going to have the same street cred. It shows a tremendous amount of retail insights.”

Casler, for his part, is placing his bets that his long-honed skills for sensing what will sell will continue to attract a new and younger demographic.....


Did you see who was shopping there?

Dudi Luski, of Israel, checks out a Reebok jacket being sold on consignment in Jeff Casler's new store, Thrive Market on Newbury St., in Boston, Friday, April 27, 3018. Casler is having his third time around. The former CEO of the Second Time Around consignment chain grew the business into a national brand before selling it to private equity firm several years ago. Last year, he watched from the outside as the company imploded after years of mismanagement, leaving thousands of consigners enraged and left in the lurch. Photo by Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe
Dudi Luski of Israel checked out a Reebok jacket being sold on consignment at Thrive Market (Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe).

Yeah, I get it.

Might as well buy a pair of shoes while you're there

"Shoemaker Rockport files for bankruptcy protection" by Janelle Nanos Globe Staff  May 14, 2018

Rockport Group LLC, a Newton-based maker of casual shoes for men and women, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, citing a “costly and time-consuming separation” from adidas AG, which owned the company until 2015.

Rockport said it agreed to sell its assets for $150 million to a fund run by Charlesbank Capital Partners, a private equity firm with operations in Boston and New York. Other bidders could emerge as part of the bankruptcy, and the court will have to sign off on a final deal.

Reminds me of Necco, and the battle has been lost (that is about as antiwar as the Globe gets these days, and as you can see it ain't much).

The Chapter 11 filing is the latest turn in the 47-year history of the company, which was founded in Marlborough in 1971 by the father and son team of Saul and Bruce Katz, and was among the first American shoe companies to promote walking as a fitness activity. Their ties to the business go back even further. 

Ha, I'm not even going to, ha, you think I make it up.

Saul’s father, Samuel Katz, owned the Hubbard Shoe Co., which produced children’s shoes in Rochester, N.H., at one point employing more than 900 workers between two factories. Saul Katz took over in 1943, and then watched the industry falter in the 1960s as manufacturing moved offshore. He lost his entire fortune and “held on until there was no more possibility of operating,” Bruce Katz said in his father’s obituary in 2012.

Saul, who had testified before Congress in an effort to protect US domestic shoe manufacturing, ultimately decided it was better to stay in the game and play by its new rules. He and Bruce created Rockport Co. and began producing footwear in Brazil. The pair sold the company to Reebok in 1986 for $118.5 million and eventually reclaimed the Hubbard name, launching the Samuel Hubbard brand of dress shoes in 2014.

Meanwhile, Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories analyst at NPD Group, said Rockport “has lost share to the sneaker business and to competitors in the casual space,” as the sale of leisure shoes is actually seeing an upswing.....

Time for me to run.