STAMFORD – Jen Morris was on her way to Staples in the Ridgeway Shopping Center to buy printer paper Tuesday when she saw a bright red sign outside Bed Bath & Beyond.
“Entire Store on Sale,” it reads.
If not for the sign, she wouldn’t have gone into Bed Bath & Beyond, Morris said.
“I can’t remember the last time I was here,” she said. “Years ago I came all the time. But then their prices got high and their stuff wasn’t as good.”
That may be the story, in a nutshell, of the once-beloved retail giant, which last month announced it will close 150 stores.
Now, it appears, the Stamford store – which has anchored the Ridgeway Shopping Center for 24 years – is one of them.
Calls and emails Tuesday seeking confirmation from Bed Bath & Beyond corporate headquarters in Union, N.J., were not returned.
A call and an email left for Steven Dudziec, vice president of leasing for Urstadt Biddle Properties, owner of Ridgeway Shopping Center, also were not returned Tuesday.
But the Urstadt Biddle website advertises the Bed Bath & Beyond space for lease.
It shows that the store’s departure will create a huge void.
According to the Urstadt Biddle website, the 47,000-square-foot Bed Bath & Beyond is the second-largest tenant, after Super Stop & Shop, at 60,000 square feet.
Ridgeway Shopping Center, with entrances on Summer, Bedford and Sixth streets, was built during the years that followed World War II, opening in 1949, according to Mall Hall of Fame. There were several additions until the shopping center underwent a significant remodeling and expansion, reopening in 1998.
Bed Bath & Beyond opened with it, and was a major draw for the busy shopping center known for its big, convoluted parking lot.
Over the weekend, though, store customers received a flashing red and white email: “At Stamford, EVERYTHING is on sale!” it reads. “Everything must go! Many new reductions!”
Inside the store this week, red and white sale signs are everywhere. Many shelves are empty. Merchandise is stacked on wheeled carts as if it’s about to be moved.
A store clerk said they have not been told yet when the store will close.
In an Aug. 31 press release, Bed Bath & Beyond executives announced that the company “has identified and commenced the closure of approximately 150 lower-producing Bed Bath & Beyond banner stores. The company continues to evaluate its portfolio and leases, in addition to staffing, to ensure alignment with customer demand and go-forward strategy.”
Connecticut has 12 Bed Bath & Beyond stores, including Stamford.
Contacted Tuesday, associates at the stores in Norwalk, Fairfield, Hamden, Manchester, Enfield, Guilford, Simsbury and Wethersfield said they are not closing.
Store associates in Southington and Brookfield said they aren’t sure.
The associate at the Bed Bath & Beyond on Hartford Turnpike in Waterford, a small town in southeastern Connecticut, said that store is closing in January.
The retailer’s future is significantly unsettled.
In a Sept. 7 news report, “The Rise and Decline of Bed Bath & Beyond,” reporters for Business Insider wrote that the retailer, “the golden child of big-box stores,” has been the nation’s destination for home goods since 1971.
Bed Bath & Beyond stores, known for their enormous assortment of merchandise, filled strip malls across the country. The company, once “at the forefront of the superstore movement in America,” now is on the verge of collapse, Business Insider reported.
E-commerce and competition from Walmart and Target, which offer lower prices, took a toll. In 2019 company leaders were ousted for “failing to adapt to the modern retail landscape,” Business Insider reported.
In 2020, 44 stores were closed. As the new company leaders moved to limit the merchandise assortment, COVID-19 hit, slowing the supply chain and leaving Bed Bath & Beyond shelves empty.
In June, the company ousted its leaders again. That quarter, losses amounted to $358 million, Business Insider reported. At the end of August, the company said it would close 150 stores and cut 20 percent of its corporate staff.
Days later, the chief financial officer, Gustavo Arnal, died falling from the 18th floor of a New York City apartment building. Arnal and investor Ryan Cohen had just been named in a federal class-action fraud lawsuit that claimed they had plotted to “artificially inflate the price of Bed Bath & Beyond’s publicly traded stock,” Business Insider reported.
Bed Bath & Beyond executives said in a press release that they have secured $500 million in new financing. But it’s too soon to tell whether they can turn the company around, Business Insider reported.
The news looks better at Ridgeway Shopping Center, which will have to fill the huge space Bed Bath & Beyond leaves behind.
According to the Urstadt Biddle website, the shopping center has two new tenants filling recently vacated space. Ashley Furniture took 19,832 square feet near the southern Summer Street entrance, and Five Below, a discount store chain that sells everything for less than $5, took 9,045 square feet next to Staples.
The shopping center does not have other large vacancies. It has 6,700 square feet for lease next door to the Old Navy store, according to the website, and two spaces that will be available on Sixth Street – 340 square feet that were occupied by a shoe repair shop, and 4,800 square feet that housed Chinese Buffet.
Morris said she’s not sure she’ll miss Bed Bath & Beyond.
“I’ll miss the way it used to be,” she said. “But I’ve missed that for a long time.”