May 16, 2013

Timely Demise: Where are they now?

A friend recently discovered and fell in love with Timely Demise, my chronicle of the compression of American retailing in the last recession. I hadn't really looked at the site since it closed, and as I started poking through the archives, I got curious about the final outcomes of the activities we tracked in the moment.

Researching the bankruptcies and acquisitions chronicled in the blog, I was able to get concrete updates on 40 of the larger entities. Here's how they wound up:

  • Eighteen of them (45%) are gone, either through Chapter 7 liquidations or just closing up shop. Extrapolated across the hundreds of companies we covered, this percentage would undoubtedly be higher, given the amount of smaller brands and mom-and-pop stores we wrote about.
  • Seven (18%) were acquired and continue operating, including individual brands (Stila, J. Jill), retail brands (Crabtree & Evelyn) and multi-store chains (Better Bedding).
  • Four firms continued operating but encountered more trouble after their appearances in Timely Demise, including Fortunoff (which ended up closing all its stores, then reopening a few more targeted stores) and Reader's Digest (which has returned to bankruptcy but continues to publish).
  • Now to the good news. Five companies emerged cleanly from bankruptcy and continue operations.
  • Four firms shrunk but are still in business in some form.
  • And four firms we wrote about look as though it's business as usual for them, having weathered the recession and resumed their growth trajectories in recent years, some with admirable results. La-Z-Boy, we recline in a toast to you.

August 16, 2012

What I learned today, August 16

For all the noise he makes about the Nets, Jay-Z's stake in the team is 0.067%. (It looks to have been a million-dollar buy-in.) He also has 0.2% ownership of the new Barclays Arena.

March 28, 2012

Words I learned today

A Veblen good is a product whose demand curve shifts in proportion to its expense. The more it costs, the more desirable it becomes, such as the Hermes Birkin Bag, on which you can spend $124,750 (well, in theory you could).

A Giffen good is a product whose consumption increases as costs increase, defying typical supply-and-demand curves. Giffen goods are inferior goods whose demand disregards quality.

(Via the wonderful Felix Salmon, who actually used the latter term incorrectly--my Prada shoes are Veblen, not Giffen, goods, although I find them most desirable at 60% off.)

December 2, 2011

What I learned today, December 2

Southwest is the only airline that was formed before the deregulation of the airline industry that has never filed for bankruptcy.

Related: US Airways is raising its $118 Philadelphia-to-Pittsburgh fare to $698 when Southwest stops flying the route next month, leaving US Air as the sole option.

November 23, 2011

What I learned today, November 23

"In other words: we could all be descendants of Martians."

June 29, 2010

What I learned today, June 29

The non-Hispanic white population of New York City is just 35 percent, and has been below 40 percent since the 1990s.

June 23, 2010

What I learned today, June 23

This is not news to me, but it may be to you: New Jersey has around 600 diners, the most in the country.

News to me is that Wikipedia has an awesome page on diners. Worth reading if you've ever ordered a taylor ham-egg-and-cheese sandwich after midnight (or if you know someone who has).

June 21, 2010

What I learned today, June 21

Father's Day is the third-best-selling "Hallmark Holiday," with 93 million cards changing hands at a cost of $749 million. It trails Valentine's Day (152 million cards) and Mother's Day (141 million) in volume. All three combined are dwarfed by Christmas, which generates 1.8 billion card sales each year.

June 4, 2010

What I learned today, June 3

The typical modern soccer ball, with its black-on-white pentagons, looks the way it does because for the 1970 World Cup FIFA had Adidas design a ball that was easy to see on television.

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The concoction
3 parts observation
2 parts introspection
1 part links
1 part creativity
1 part stinging wit
dash of sarcasm

The history
The Ideapad debuted on November 1, 1998 and has been through numerous incarnations through the years. It is now a weblog and personal journal.
Once upon a time I wrote Usability: The Site Speaks for Itself (Publisher's page /
Once in a whenever I consult as User Savvy (dormant)
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