Retail Traffic

Steve & Barry's Scores A Hit

Long Islanders Steve Shore and Barry Prevor met on a bus trip when they were 15. Soon they were selling screen-printed T-shirts at flea markets. Now, 27 years later, they are successful entrepreneurs — and they are getting noticed by landlords.

In the past year, low-priced Port Washington, N.Y.-based Steve & Barry's University Sportswear (none of its private label sweatshirts, footwear, jeans, and ski jackets sell for over $10) nearly doubled its retail locations, to 70 stores from 37. Expect that number to double again to 140 by this time next year, says Prevor, who is co-chief executive with Shore.

In June alone, Steve & Barry's plans four openings: in Ashtabula, Ohio; Ontario, Calif.; Livingston, N.J.; and Westgate Mall in Brainard, Minn. All the stores will feature the chain's design hallmarks such as wood floors and wood hangers.

The chain is now in 26 states. Pryor said Colorado is next on his list. He said he is open to big-box power centers in addition to malls and outdoor centers.

Generally, Pryor looks for spaces between 50,000 and 150,000 square feet — but has settled for as small as 25,000 square feet “in exceptional cases,” such as the 27,000-square-foot store scheduled to open this fall at the Manhattan Mall, two blocks from Macy's flagship. So will city locales be a new direction or a true exception?

Exception, predicts Richard Hollander, president of the Customer ID Division of Buxton Corp., a retail location consultancy. The chain's main thrust, he says, is into satellite cities. “Look where they're going,” he says, “Not Minneapolis, but Brainard, Minn.; into Grapevine, not Dallas or Fort Worth.”

Hollander, who says that the retailer is not one of his clients, speaks glowingly about the merchandise (“They have great quality at great value,”) pricing, (“They work their hearts out getting the lowest price.”) and location policy (“Their strategy of being more in rural and suburban markets will play well to the trend of expanding satellite cities.”)

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