(not so) random links

-it’s official: the recession is in full swing, and people are spending less across the board…consumers and companies. boutiques and big & little retail stores appear to be offering huge discounts, advertising ginormous sales, moving their businesses to different (read: cheaper) areas of town, cutting back their opening hours, or even just plain going out of business. on that note, see this absolutely fascinating, in-depth, multi-part article about the ominous and sad shakeout that has been happening on the retail scene in new york city over the past several months (via new york magazine).

i am seeing evidence of some of these trends in the city in which i currently reside (san francisco), and have noted the following (as i stroll my baby around downtown and window shop):

*generally, most stores seem kinda empty, or at least less peopled than they once were. of course, i cannot quantify this, it’s just a feeling/obsevation. i have noticed more people lurking around discount tables and racks, however…

*department stores, major chain stores (like old navy, for instance), and even boutiques seem to be bogged down with tons of clearance items and are advertising big savings and steep discounts on top of discounts…

*h&m was handing out 20%+ off-one-item coupons this week, hoping to entice people to buy…

*peripherally related to fashion: i learned that a nice yarn store here in the bay area, artfibers, moved across the bay to oakland, in search of what i am sure is cheaper rent (they had a centralized location right downtown here in SF, i’m guessing they won’t have the same foot traffic in their new digs)…

so, question time, addressed to you: what’s happening on the retail scene where YOU live, as a result of the economic downturn? are stores closing, moving, or selling off big bunches of goods for little prices? are there any retail establishment whose demise you particularly lament? are any stores in your area enjoying an unlikely boon in this economically busted time in which we currently live? who’s surviving in retail, or will survive? and why? care to posit?


a whole bunch of quick and dirty (i have a backlog!):

-the amazing knit maven stephanie japel of glampyre, genius that she is, has come up with an easy triangular scarf pattern that was developed to help one use up those fun single skeins that seem to lurk around in one’s stash, looking for a good use…it’s called reclamation. LOVE THIS.

-knitter? fan of owls? check out this sweater pattern by needled that has owls encirling it’s yoke. v. cute! (via craft:)

– i just recently learned about weekend designer, a pattern drafting blog. brilliant idea! according to said blog’s about page, “most of the tutorials (posted on the blog) illustrate basic concepts in pattern-drafting or are patternless designs”.

-i LOVE this little japanese-looking “grab bag” pattern from allpeoplequilt.com (via craft nectar and whip up) love the idea for using said little bag for little incidentals one picks up while shopping, particularly when going to the farmer’s market, etc.

-here’s a few more bag-making links for you: fat quarter tote by cicada daydream (via craft:), rag rug handbag (via whip up)

the suburban queen passes on an inventive bit of knitting inspiration: a cardigan that isn’t a cardigan at all, but rather, a long piece of knitting, buttoned in the front! what a superb idea!

-the observer (UK) has a series of how-to’s online called make your own: designer clothes and accessories. amongst the gems on the site: viv westwood details how to make a dress and a how-to on how to recreate one of waistcoats from martin margiela’s 2009 artisanal collection…(thanks, farpitz)

-casey of elegant musings passes on some helpful links on the subject of pattern grading (sizing)…here and here. good info to have at hand to help you when you find that perfect vintage pattern in a thrift, but it’s not in your size…

ethical style passes on some super smart vintage shopping tips from judy at atlantis home/jane at sea of shoes (they are mother & daughter)…

-how to make a very haute ruffle necklace, courtesy of morgan of panda head magazine, over at brightest young things


  1. Casey

    Ive been noticing the same downturn where I live as well. Although every time I go to the shopping mall, it seems *packed* with shoppers, and some stores like F21, Victoria’s Secret, and even Coach seem to be doing a booming business. Yet the department stores are quite bare. I would suspect that two types of stores will survive this downturn: the high-end retailers (because luxury will once again return to something just for the wealthy, rather than the free-for-all it was just a few years ago) who have a niche already, and lower-end chains (such as F21) that have an edge in the market with trendy clothes that are geared towards the younger, fashion-hip crowd.

    Thanks for the link to my blog, btw! 🙂

  2. Sal

    Here in Minneapolis, sales are the main indicator. Most shops still seem to be getting decent foot traffic, and the malls are packed … but the after Christmas sales are still going, and it’s nearly March.

  3. lefiffy

    I’m located in Cologne/Germany and it’s merely the same over here.
    Shortly before Christmas H&M handed out a 10 Euro vouchers for every purchase over 50 Euros and they never did anything like that before. American Apparel offers 20% off every item for students.
    Big old German department stores close down and several shoe stores offer buy a pair, get one free.
    A lot of little shops in my neighborhood are closing down as well while at the same time the thrift shops seem to become more popular. :/

  4. emily august

    In regards to the recession article:

    “In the ultimate hipster sacrifice, an indie sneaker store in Soho has put up the sign reading we have uggs.” Brilliant.

    Also, my roommate works at Joe, The Art of Coffee with the owner who was quoted in the article so that was kind of funny.

  5. Lizzy

    The shopping areas here still seem busy but I think people are either browsing or just buying less, on weekends in particular. I also think a lot of people are becoming much more savvy about online shopping and buying secondhand (charity shops, eBay etc) rather than it being something just a few people do. Here in the UK several chains have gone out of business which is sad from a nostalgia point of view but IMO some of them just didn’t move with the times while similar stores did.

  6. ambika

    Bookmarking that ruffle necklace. That is too neat.

    I’ve definitely noticed a lot of businesses in my neighborhood closing but they’re not necessarily boutiques. Shopping is down, period and for the few who have expendable income there are some insane deals out there.

  7. Shay

    I live in Vancouver BC which is a weird little bubble in the midst of what’s going on in the world right now. As we’re expecting the 2010 winter olympics next year, there are new shops opening everywhere and a massive construction boom. It all feels quite false, and I worry that we’ll have that much further to fall when the games are over.

  8. *emy

    I live in the downtown SF too! I walk down Geary st everyday to drop-off/pick-up my daughter from school and am AMAZED by the amount of new shops that have opened in the last 6 months or about to open!!! And all seem to be begging for shoppers!!! I would like to think that it’s just the time of day ( noon and then again at 4pm )that people just aren’t shopping at those times but seeing as they are advertising 60% off this early in the “spring” season, that might just be hopeful thinking. I personally try not to buy new clothes but get sad when I see a store close its door! So I’m sending good vibes to Flippa K, Paul Smith, and Shotwell!

    Thanks for all the links!

  9. miss fitz

    Maybe retail had gotten way out of control before though? Maybe too much luxury and extravagance had become the norm and people were buying and coveting more than they needed or could afford? How many Target stores does a city need? How many pet fashion stores does my Chicago neighborhood in 60622 need? I can think of 12 off the top of my head. Cutting back isn’t the problem; it’s the excess that dominated years past that’s now just leveling out. As someone who lost a job last year, I feel for those out of work because shoppers cut back. But enough shopping already!

  10. tricia

    miss fitz: i feel like a lot of those stores, the overabundance of retail, was added in the run-up to this economic crash, during the boom years. case in point: i moved to orlando, florida in the mid-80s with my family, and after we got past the recession in the early 90s, i remember seeing the whole central florida area boom like CRAZY. tons of neighborhoods being built, strip malls as far as the eye could see. i moved away from that area in about 1998, and every single time i go back, or had gone back up until this past year, the area was more and more developed. 10 targets in a given area and stuff like that.

    i think the leveling out is good…moderation is in order. not giving up on shopping and living and enjoying life altogether, but, perhaps thinking more carefully about what we spend, and how we spend it. something of that nature, you know?