Mourning Tuesday Morning

Back when it started in 1974 it had one of the quirkiest business model gimmicks in all of retailing. It was only open some days a week starting on Tuesday because that’s what the founder said was “the first positive day of the week.”

With out-of-the-way locations and bare-bones wood shelving that seemed to be straight out of someone’s basement it also had a rather amazing assortment of mostly home merchandise. For a long time it was the only place to buy Ralph Lauren products at a deep discount and outside of department stores. It sold off-price goods nobody else had.

Eventually it grew to more than 700 stores and adapted more conventional operating hours, all the while seeming to have a steady turnover in both inventory and management. Only its core group of merchants and buyers seemed to endure and they supplied a constant flow of goods to the stores, which were eagerly snapped up by shoppers even as other off-pricers like HomeGoods and the rest of the TJX nameplates as well as Ross and Burlington expanded and seemed to gain market share.

And now Tuesday Morning is about to cease to exist, its second trip to bankruptcy court in three years its final ploy to stay in business proving unsuccessful. Its liquidation is currently in process and will be done in another month or three. All that’s left will be the real estate…and memories.

Like other retailers that are in the midst of similar shutdowns like Bed Bath & Beyond, Party City and David’s Bridal, it will be lumped together as retail businesses that didn’t evolve and change as their customers did. That is no doubt true but each individual retailer has its own story for why it went belly-up. In the case of Tuesday, their smaller, out-of-the-way locations with uneven inventory and a lack of marketing surely played big roles in what has happened. It had never developed an e-commerce operation and today any retailer without one is toast…or will be.

But it’s also 2023. After the pandemic, after the false-positive that boosted all of the home business, after rising interest rates and a slowing housing market, marginal retailers just couldn’t stick it out any longer.

And there will be more casualties before things settle down again. Can’t name names but watch for the retailers who continue to live on the edge and don’t have the financial backing or omnichannel strategy to ride this out.

We’re not done yet…even if Tuesday Morning is. The mourning period will be brief, it’s sad to say.

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