After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, there is no doubt that Aéropostale’s future is on the rocks.
Although a majority of the teen retailer’s financial troubles are in court filings, its store locations provide an in-person perspective of a highly confusing scenario. From the spooky emptiness of its once-occupied Times Square location to its thriving Manhattan Mall space, Aéropostale’s uncertain bankruptcy state is highly exposed and unfiltered to consumers everywhere.
As one of the top tourist shopping areas in New York City, Times Square plays host to several retail giants, including American Eagle Outfitters, Forever 21 and Levi’s. But when people walk to 1515 Broadway, they will find a ghostly, large and unoccupied retail space where Aéropostale once lived.
What was until recently Aéropostale’s Times Square store, this address is now a barren area with an Aéropostale Times Square sign covering the front doors. One poster with Aéropostale models hangs in a front window. The interior is completely empty, with no merchandise save for a sole repair man fixing the lights. A large “RKF.com Real Estate” sign hangs in one of the windows, with a phone number for interested parties. While this location was on Aéropostale’s list of store closings, it is unclear when the store permanently shuttered.
Meanwhile, at the Manhattan Mall on West 33rd Street, the Aéropostale store in this shopping center doesn’t indicate even a hint of bankruptcy. The storefront contains trendy mannequins dressed for back-to-school. Inside, the décor is neatly arranged and inviting with an Americana-meets-cool-camp-hangout theme. Graphic tees are folded in tidy stacks and jeans are arranged in wall display rows. On a Tuesday afternoon, the store was fairly busy with roughly 40 shoppers and four security guards pacing the floor.
In-store prices and promotions are close to consistent with those on the website, offering 60 percent off all new clothing arrivals. For girls’ apparel, blouses and shirts were $12, dress and rompers were $20 and up, denim was $20 and up and graphic tees were buy two, get one free. Mens’ clothing had similar price points, with graphic T-shirts at $9.80 and short sleeve tees starting at $15.
For its back-to-school campaign, Aéropostale still featured posters with Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman and U.S. men’s soccer player Deandre Yedlin at the Manhattan Mall store. With a strong fall essentials presence, this location and many others demonstrate that Aéropostale is still banking on strong consumer activity despite its financial woes.
According to recent court filings, the retailer is in talks with private-equity firm Versa Capital to be its “stalking horse” bidder. This could help Aéropostale out of its bad financial situation by providing an inventory cash payment, securing more than 500 current store leases and allowing company employees to keep their jobs.