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disney stores closing!

Discussion in 'Archive' started by dws warzone, May 23, 2003.

  1. dws warzone

    dws warzone Member

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    May 23, 9:01 AM (ET)

    By GARY GENTILE

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Walt Disney Co., already facing economic challenges at its theme parks and ABC television network, said it may sell its chain of retail stores in North America and Europe.

    "We are very optimistic we can actually find a buyer" if the company decides to sell the Disney Store chain, Disney Consumer Products Chairman Andy Mooney said Thursday.

    The company has been closing its least profitable stores over the last few years. The number of North American stores has dropped from 522 to 387 and further closings are expected, Disney said.

    In preparation for a potential sale, Peter Whitford, who was hired to run the store chain in 2001, has resigned and other executives will lose their jobs over the next few weeks as Disney looks to control costs, the company said. Mooney will run the stores on an interim basis.

    Shares of Disney were up 24 cents to $18.12 at the end of regular trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Disney said it is considering selling the North American and European stores to a retail specialist who would run them and pay Disney a royalty. The company has yet to hire an investment bank to solicit bids, according to Gary Foster, a spokesman for Disney Consumer Products.

    Last year, the company sold its stores in Japan to Oriental Land Co., the same company that runs Tokyo Disneyland. The sale resulted in a net pretax gain of $34 million.

    Disney launched the chain in 1987 to sell dolls, videos, mugs, and other items based on characters such as Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. There are 548 stores worldwide, including 47 in Japan, six in Hong Kong, and stores in London, Paris and other major European cities. They employ 12,000 people.

    Profits have been steadily declining and Disney has been experimenting with new layouts, new product mixes and other strategies to reinvigorate the chain. Ultimately, the company concluded it did not have the capital and expertise to succeed.
     
  2. Gurgitoy2

    Gurgitoy2 Active Member

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    Considering how poorly they're run now, I don't care anymore. More power to whoever buys the chain. It sure would be funny though if whoever did buy it actually got it back to it's former glory, or at least something unique again.

    Just let Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, or K-Mart have them...it's the same thing anyway.
     
  3. Hrothgar

    Hrothgar Member

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    Amen. There's literally NOTHING there for me now. I remember the old days, going there and seeing scads of things I'd love to have: art books, rare pins, animation art, hard-to-find video and DVD releases, nifty pens and stationery, etc. etc. Now there's kids clothes, plush, a million copies of the latest direct-to-video schlock, and that's about it. It makes me sad to even walk past it.

    The last time I had occasion to buy anything there was last summer when they were having a clearance sale on pins right before I left on a trip to WDW. I got a good deal on some traders. I hope that whoever takes the reigns sees the value of diversifying, rather than just catering to the 3-8 set. Unless there's a fundamental change in the store's focus I can't see a reason to buy anything there ever again.
     
  4. dtats

    dtats Member

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    "Time to movin' along..." ;)

    Heres to a better run with the next operator; if you're out there listening--more (or any) park merchendise would be nice, as would more audio/video/books on Disneyana we'd like to hear/see/read and buy. Give customers a reason to shop there again.

    Last "cool" thing I picked up at my local Disney Store was a hand-held toy that had a character on top, and the character spins around, while lighted strands twirl, when the trigger button is squeezed. We actually picked up two of them, a "Buzz Lightyear" and a "Stitch," both for my two year old son. He enjoys playing with them from time to time, as they light up brightly and spin about and...that's about it.

    Perhaps an unknown "feature" of the Stitch toy occurred 2 days after we had the toy home when Stitch's head broke off, leaving a headless alien to twirl around and entertain my youngster. We call this feature of the toy "Experiment 627." ;D
     
  5. dtats

    dtats Member

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    OOPS! Left out a "be" in that last post!

    I guess it's apparent I've already begun my weekend celebrations! ;)
     
  6. Hrothgar

    Hrothgar Member

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    Hmmm...spinning detachable heads and strange lights? Sounds like experiment 666 to me. ;)
     
  7. SharonKurland

    SharonKurland Active Member

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    The TDS that I worked in for 20 minths in 1996-1998 is still open and hasn't had a remodeling. When I went to NY in March, I stopped off at "my" store...and just wanted to cry. Yes, I knew about all of the "new" merchandise that only caters to the 4y/o's, but in my mind's eye, "my" store still had a Gallery section (it was a prototype store), with sericels, Armani's, snowglobes, etc. Well, the Gallery is now where they keep the kids' T-shirts and plastic suitcases. The carpet hadn't been vaccuumed in what looked like a month. The wooden floor in what HAD been the Adults' section was TOTALLY scratched. There was ONE CM onstage to cover the whole store (this was a store that had a minimum of 4 CM's plus a manager at all times). This was the store that I gave up ALL of my free time for, that I lovingly dusted, vaccuumed, piled the plush, lined up the eyes on the perfectly folded T-shirts...and now it was a children's $#!+house. I walked around for about 10 or 15 minutes, totally shellshocked. And then I left, almost in tears.

    They can close it, and all the other stores for all I care, because I am never, ever going back in there. I'd rather stick with my memories of the happier times, just like so much more of Disney.

    What a love-hate relationship we all have, huh?

    -Sharon-
     
  8. Gurgitoy2

    Gurgitoy2 Active Member

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    Sharon, which one did you work in? I used to work in the 5th Ave flagship, and that's become awfull now. That "pink" Princess room in the back just hurts my head. It used to be such a beautiful store...
     
  9. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Member

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    Good riddance!

    How can something that was so right have gone so wrong?!? :-

    The ONLY reason I've been in my local Disney Store in the last couple of years was to buy the Disney Treasure DVDs at their lower-than-average prices.
     
  10. SharonKurland

    SharonKurland Active Member

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    Ben-

    You mean they even ruined the 5th Avenue Store? Long, deep, SIGH.

    I bet you knew Vonnie Mercer, didntcha? EVERYONE knew Vonnie .

    I worked at Store #535, in Staten Island NY. In fact, we got one of your Asst. Mngers, Vinny (with the really cool MSEP-embroidered denim jacket) a few weeks before I left in July 1998.

    -Sharon-
     
  11. Gurgitoy2

    Gurgitoy2 Active Member

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    Sharon, yeah, Vinnie was cool. He came back to our store. I do remember Vonnie also. Managers really seemed to move around alot there. My favorite one was Kevin though...he was a lot of fun. The only manager I know who would wear the adult Eeyore costume or the Maleficent headress just to be silly.

    Yes, they totally ruined the 5th Ave. store. It's VERY tacky now. The entire back room that used to be themed to "Alice in Wonderland" and had kids clothing and some plush is now ENTIRELY pink, and I mean PINK! It looks like Barbie's dream house... It has fake castle turrets and Princess stuff everywhere. The front also got "rethemed" if you can call it that. It looks sort of "Romanesque". The top 2 floors haven't changed much design-wise, but they no longer sell much good stuff on either of those floors. The Gallery is relegated to a back corner of it's former floor, and the rest of the area is filled with plush, toys, clothes, you name it.
     
  12. Gurgitoy2

    Gurgitoy2 Active Member

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    You know, Sharon, wasn't working for the "Old" Disney Stores so much fun? I remember how it sure didn't feel like work. I loved the trivia competitions! The family feel, the excitement...but as the fun started to die, so did my enthusiasm for working there. The last straw for me was the changeover to the "new" costumes. That was one of the most special things about working at the 5th Ave. store; we got to dress in those fancy vests and ties. I loved the Mickey print on them (darn, I should have "kept" one or two for posterity).
     
  13. xfkirsten

    xfkirsten Member

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    Oooh, boy, do those bring back memories... you should see the newer ones they have at the parks that talk, too... The Mickey one talks if you even accidentally bump it a bit. "Alllllaaaaakkkzzzooooo! Haha!" And as tired as I got of hearing that, I still almost bought one for old times' sake... but I'll stick to my light up sword tricks, thank you. ;)

    -Kirsten
     
  14. SharonKurland

    SharonKurland Active Member

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    Ben-

    That's just SO sad. They couldn't keep ONE store good?

    I wonder if TDS in Japan sells the same Princess crap or if OLC lets them sell good stuff?

    -Sharon-
     
  15. Gurgitoy2

    Gurgitoy2 Active Member

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    Well, I know that TDS in Japan at least gets to sell park stuff (Tokyo Disney Resort, that is...).
     
  16. derekdaze

    derekdaze Member

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    Wow, that's sad about the 5th ave store - that was my last 'Disney' memory of my year in America... it was a pretty store.

    The French flagship on the Champs Elysee had a large refit just before Christmas. The merch there was nice BECAUSE it wasn't the same old park stuff - they had a nice variety of snowglobes and the like, and some good plush too - I remember thinking 'wow - the plush here is actually better than that in the parks...'

    But, nothing 'vault disney-esque' no 'man behind the magic' stuff - you'd struggle to find a picture of Walt in most TDS I'd say.
     
  17. SharonKurland

    SharonKurland Active Member

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    Ben-

    When I worked at TDS, it was a fun hobby, not a job. I had THREE jobs at that time, just cuz I wanted to. I'd work at the hospital from 8 to 4, see private patients from 4 to 5:30, then work at TDS from 6 to whenever. Sleep? Who needs it. Food? Shove something into my mouth. Social life? Friends understood. Money? I made 16x my TDS pay at Job #2. It was just for my love of Disney because when I was in that store, in my sweater, I was in a little piece of WDW again. I could dance around and sing and help deliver some of that Disney Magic to the Guests. It was a very happy time for me.

    I also left around the time that major changes were happening (work-wise AND personal) and was amazed when I didn't miss it. My ex-Manager said it best though...it had changed from a hobby to a job and it was time to leave.

    -Sharon-
     
  18. SharonKurland

    SharonKurland Active Member

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    Derek-

    I've been to the Champs Elysee store, in 1996. Very pretty store. At least THEY still sell SOME "different" stuff. TDS's in the States cater to toddlers, and 95% of what they sell are kids' clothes, plush, toys, etc. It's turned into a baby store.

    -Sharon-
     
  19. Michael Zielski

    Michael Zielski Member

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    Even though the original vision of our Disney Store is long a thing of the past, it'll still be difficult to see it go, if this does actually happen. I can remember going up to the glass cabinet housing the Walt Disney Classics Collection pieces, eyeing the beautiful pieces like a little kid rubbing his nose up to a big department store window at Christmas(I actually haven't changed that much!)--we finally gave in and started a collection when they came out with Maleficent, first in the villains series. Actually, looking back, that was one of the first major changes, taking out the Classics Collection pieces from selective stores, that signalled the beginning of the end.

    Our son grew up with trips to the Disney Store; at our local mall, before he could talk well, he would signal that it was time to go to the "Mickey Store" by holding his arms straight out in front of him, striking Mickey's sorceror's pose.....memories.....better stop now......

    We still go to ours, though not every mall trip, as we used to--still have to speak to some of the "oldtimers" there. Actually stoppped in last night, and found the "Finding Nemo" soundtrack for three dollars less than at Borders!

    Sorry to hear that the NYC store has changed as well; we'll be in NYC next month, primarily to visit Ellis Island, but a side trip to 5th Avenue was definitely in mind--maybe now we won't head uptown. My favorite part of the store was the huge gallery floor, but apparently that, too, has been scaled down.....what a shame......

    As Neil Young once said, "It's better to burn out, than it is to rust"--I only wish this could have been the legacy of the Disney Store saga.

    Mike.
     
  20. MitchB

    MitchB Member

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    Why is it that Walt Disney Co seems to take every new
    inventive and entertaing idea that they come up with
    and just flush it down the toilet!!! The Disney store was
    once my favorite place to shop and find truly unique
    items or theme park item that couldn't get. Recently
    some friends gave me a Disney gift card and quite frankly I had a difficult time finding anything I really wanted, so ended up getting a couple of DVDs to add
    to my collection. Even that was difficult because I don't
    want the family friendly versions that they are putting out these days. I want the old Disney Store back, along with the old rides at the old theme parks, and the
    wonderful feeling I got when I was there
     

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