Is Something Fishy Going on These Days at Filene's Basement?
The firm is being challenged in a federal bankruptcy court over its 'augmentation' practices.
Is there something a bit strange about the going-out-business sale being held these days at Filene’s Basement, the popular Mazza Gallerie store?
We wondered that ourselves during a recent visit, when we noticed that all of the clothing racks and display shelves remained full after nearly two weeks of the company-wide sale triggered by its filing for protection under bankruptcy laws.
Sure enough, something unusual does appear to be taking place. That’s why sales staffers were walking around with shopping baskets full of new designer merchandise and promptly replacing the stuff that’s been sold.
There are different types of liquidations and going-out-business sales in retailing. What seems to be happening at Filene’s Basement is what’s known in the trade as ‘augmentation.’
In a nutshell, it involves bringing in outside goods and selling them off as part of the ongoing liquidation sale.
It’s been a fairly common practice in recent years nationwide. But Filene’s Basement, believed to be employing the tactic at all of its locations, is being challenged in a federal bankruptcy court in Delaware on whether this type of maneuver is really fair to consumers and competitors.
Meanwhile, Filene’s Basement at Friendship Heights is offering steeper discounts of between 20 to 40 percent this week, up from the 10-to-30-percent discounts quoted our last Patch report.
Handbags and designer merchandise from Tommy Hilfiger, Perry Ellis, Calvin Klein, Izod and others are now marked down by 20 percent, not 10 percent.
In a way, this going-out-of-business sale is tinged with a bit of sadness, with the century-plus-old Filene’s brand now on the verge of completely vanishing from the retail scene.
The famed Filene's Basement chain, once based in Boston, ushered in a new era in retailing after it developed a system of automatic markdowns on a schedule that consumers could easily follow, according to the Boston Globe.
Filene’s Basement was hived off from the parent Filene’s in 1991, and was eventually purchased by Syms Corp. at an auction in 2009. Filene’s itself was swallowed up in a Macy’s takeover in 2006.
You can pay your final respects to Filene’s Basement from now until early January in Friendship Heights. It’ll be open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.