Say Goodbye to Some Familiar Brands

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by jason_els, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Wallstreet 24/7 posted a list of every day brands which appear to be on their deathbeds. They claim these brands are so troubled that they will disappear within the year. As usual, some may go dormant, others will be folded into other brands, and maybe a few will survive or even get resurrected like Abercrombie & Fitch. While I've never met anyone who has worked at Conde Nast and liked it (they refer to it as, "Condescending and Nasty") they do have some great titles I like to read.

    Sometimes I get sentimental about brands. Is there a family in New York that doesn't lament the demise of Best & Co. (seen in The Godfather) or a family in Boston who doesn't mourn Filene's when they were in their heyday? While AMC may have passed away relatively unmourned, how will you feel about the loss of Chrysler? The romantic part of me will miss the nostalgia of some of these names, but the capitalist in me won't care a whit. Still, I can't look at Hearst and wonder if part of the greatness of Citizen Kane won't be taken away once the cultural reference fades into obscurity.

    So here's the list. Let me know how you feel about it:

    Budget Car Rental and (possibly) Avis
    Borders
    Crocs
    Saturn
    Hearst
    Old Navy and (possibly) Banana Republic
    Eddie Bauer
    palm
    Conde Nast
    Chrysler
    United Airlines
    US Air
    American Airlines
     
  2. MH07

    MH07 Member

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    I've always loved Chrysler; I have two of them right now.

    Budget Car Rental and (possibly) Avis--ehh, ok, I like Hertz having competition.
    Borders--Barnes and Noble beats them all to hell and back.
    Crocs--buh-bye.
    Saturn--good riddance; shouldn't have been here in the first place (they got rid of OLDSMOBILE and kept SATURN? geez, and we wonder why GM is bankrupt...).
    Hearst--"Rosebud". I'll miss them, too.
    Old Navy and (possibly) Banana Republic--ehhh, well, ok.
    Eddie Bauer--good brand, sorry to see it go.
    palm--buh-bye.
    Conde Nast--I liked their publications too.
    Chrysler--snif!
    United Airlines--sad to see the Friendly Skies go, but they haven't been "friendly" on United in years.
    US Air--buh-bye.
    American Airlines--flew American recently, and was struck AGAIN by how RUDE and ARROGANT they are (I was in first class; you'd think they'd be a little nice to first class pax? Hell, no.).

    For that matter, shopped for cars this weekend with the nephew and his fiancee---and the GM dealers were still as arrogant as ever. Drove the GMC Acadia right after we drove the Honda Pilot; the Pilot blew it away, like all the way away in quality, ride, quietness, performance; every measure. We told the salesman this (nicely) and he just literally told us that there was no way a Honda was better. Um, yeah, it is. And it was $10,000 cheaper.

    You left off Six Flags, which is also on death row.
     
  3. Bbucko

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    There are few if any brands here I'd miss at all, honestly. The marketplace is all about innovation and response to customer demand. When a company ceases to do well at either, they deserve to fail.

    Working for a dying enterprise is ego-death by a thousand cuts. Anyone with a career worth having keeps his/her resumé active at all times. I was in retailing for almost 30 years, and have seen many great ideas get plowed over by poor executive management. A staff wants to succeed, it's the higher-ups who fuck it all up. The point to professional retail sales is being able to say "yes" as often as possible, and everything from micromanaging a staff of professionals is the first sign that panic has set in upstairs.

    Frankly, I think this is just the tip of the iceberg: there are no home fashion retailers on the list at all, and I can think of at least one (named after a VT patriot, but no names, please :rolleyes: ) who should go down H A R D.

    About the only thing I'd really miss would be Vanity Fair, and even that's way long in the tooth now.

    Citizen Kane's brilliance will outlive its specific cultural references, I think. It's just a great fucking movie.
     
  4. Ethyl

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    Budget Car Rental and (possibly) Avis - Not surprised. A fellow colleague works during the day at Hertz and they've downsized recently.

    Borders - Employed there for six months before working for their main competitor. Fairly cheap books, crap service, store layouts are messy and appear as though the books were catalogued by visually impaired people, and they don't encourage customers to sit, get comfortable, or browse at their leisure. The message is "buy your book and get out".

    Crocs - people can find other shoes for gardening.

    Saturn - Junk. No loss.

    Hearst - ambivalent

    Old Navy and (possibly) Banana Republic - Too bad. Old Navy is good for cheap casual clothes and Banana Republic's clothing is excellent quality although not so cheap.

    Eddie Bauer - Their loss is Land's End's gain (are they still in business?)\

    palm- ambivalent

    Conde Nast - Surprising since I saw the magazine recently. I understand Playgirl bit the dust too.

    Chrysler - Never owned one but was never impressed with any my family or friends owned.

    United Airlines
    US Air
    American Airlines - never had a problem with United or American Airlines. USAir always managed to get something wrong on my ticket, service, etc.
     
  5. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    OK, my first reply to this was eaten by the goddamned 'backspace' button.

    The only airline I miss is PanAm. I'm far too young to remember their Clipper era, but what a romance the Clipper era was! I was very happy to see that era referenced in Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant. PanAm's Clippers, with their full-services, sleeping berths, and exotic destinations, made flying into a respectable method of travel. People would look forward to flying in a way they never had and still, to this day, dream about.

    Buick is likely to fold with Saturn and Saab yet, strangely enough, GM plans to keep GMC as a separate entity. I really can't forgive GM for what they did to Saab. When GM bought Saab they promised to be a hands-off owner, just lending their expertise and resources to Saab. Of course that was a lie and GM promptly fired most of Saab's people and turned the marque into just another badge in the stable hoping nobody would notice that their Saab was simply a Malibu with cheap black plastic where the cheap wood plastic should be. Saab was an oddball brand, always designed more for practicality than luxury, and unafraid of doing things differently unlike the Germans. The Saab 900 is still the best car in which to hit a deer or moose. The entire car was designed to do precisely that thing and do it very well. Maybe most of the country doesn't need to worry about centerpunching large ruminants, but it's nice to know that one could do so if necessary. It was not all about having the ignition key in the transmission tunnel. It was about turbocharging before anybody else did it, light pressure turbos, front wheel drive, independent suspension, and doing things the Saab way. They were far from perfect. My Gurdjieffian Saab mechanic with a PhD once said, "Saabs are 90% genius and 10% what-the-fuck-were-they-thinking??," and he was very right. How on earth did GM think that the most individual brand of car in the world would fit into its cheap French vanilla stable of boring boxes would work? As time went on, more and more Saab people were fired including the Gilleland father/son engineering team, and the brand was gutted. Now Saab has the dubious distinction of marketing the Chevy Trailblazer as a Saab. Saab buyers weren't stupid before GM's takeover and they certainly weren't afterwards. As the car most favored by engineers and architects, Saab buyers knew a rebadge when they saw one... and ran away in droves.

    GM's model is precisely what happened to Banana Republic. If anyone here remembers, Banana Republic used to be nothing like what it is now. It was, essentially, a consignment shop. Clothes from all over the world would come in to the stores and you'd never know what you would find. Their Israeli paratrooper bags put Banana Republic on the map during the 80s and kept it there. Under the Zieglers, the company grew as a great way to find everything from quilted Chinese jackets to Indian sari skirts to real South African hacking shirts. None of this stuff was designed in New York or LA and none of it came out of a corporate factory. You had to try things on if you didn't understand international sizing. I still have a fantastic woolen full-length East German border guard coat complete with epaulette hooks and a tag that says (in German), "Made in Dresden," back when Dresden was behind the Iron Curtain. It cost me all of $12 and I had to rifle through a box to get it, but it's of exceptional quality. Once Banana Republic was sold to The Gap, the management changed and a once vibrant store full of cool stuff disappeared to become just another niche marketer upselling Gap designs for more conservative (read older) people.

    Management of bad companies constantly amaze me at their desire to fuck-up a good thing when they have it.
     
  6. SpeedoMike

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    I understand that Buick, Chevy, and Caddy are the surviving GM marques, assuming any survive. Buick is doing quite well overseas and particularly so in China.
     
  7. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Yeah, sorry about that. I should have said Pontiac. It appears GMC is on the butcher block too. That would leave Chevrolet, Buick, and Cadillac. That makes some sense to me.
     
  8. HazelGod

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    Couldn't be arsed to shed a tear for any of them.

    I'd be particularly glad to see American Airlines bite the dust. Worst performance and worst service of any carrier I've used...and I travel for a living.

    On that note, Marketwatch had an airline industry analyst being interviewed the other day...which I was listening to on my way home from the airport...and this fellow was talking about how all the major carriers are losing billions (again) even though they're cutting flights and increasing occupancy. He goes on to say this effect is also being felt by most of the smaller and regional carriers...then he nonchalantly mentions that Southwest Airlines seems to be doing well, as they somehow always do.

    As if it's dumb fucking luck that SWA has been the only consistently profitable air carrier in the country for the past three decades?!?

    Maybe their business model makes a whole lot more sense than the hub/spoke model these monolithic carriers refuse to move away from?

    It's just infuriating, the pervasive, willful stupidity that so many "smart" people are afflicted with.
     
  9. Joll

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    It's a shame when well-loved brands roll over and die. But I guess things have to move on sometimes and things fall by the wayside.

    Lots of British brands have disappeared over recent decades - especially motoring ones. MG/Rover and TVR were two of the latest to go, sadly - although MG is now owned by the Chinese and attempting a small comeback. Although some of the bigger names are still there - Land Rover, Jaguar, Mini, RR, Bentley - they're mostly foreign-owned.

    Which of the American 3 are the most likely to survive? Ford seems pretty robust in comparison to the other two. Will they be keeping the Mercury name - or consolidating everything into Ford?

    It'd be nice if Caddy and Chevy survived within GM (and Opel/Vauxhall in Europe - which is being spun off into a stand-alone company). Pontiac and Saturn aren't well-known over here though.

    I agree about Saab. They've been allowed to drift and become irrelevant - and the tie-up with Subaru didn't bear much fruit. It's a shame because I like the Swedish brands - and the 9-3 is still a good car.
     
  10. nudeyorker

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    Wow the Conde Nast surprises me...but I've managed to get on with my life with out my favorite company... I still remember what the inside of that store smelled like...
    www.dkimages.com/discover/previews/752/427364.JPG
    I miss Pan Am also...as for the rest c'est la vie!
     
    #10 nudeyorker, Apr 20, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009
  11. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    I think trying to coerce the two to work together wasn't necessarily a bad idea, just one that wasn't given enough time and resources. GM took a large, though not controlling, stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru's parent, a while ago. They've since divested themselves much to Fuji's relief. GM wanted to rebadge Subarus not just for Saab, but for other cars as well and tried to cajole Subaru into using GM's parts bins and, eventually, platforms. Unlike Saab, Subaru had enough independence and wisdom to go their own way and while they've had some missteps (the Baja), they are one of the few car companies to show a profit last year despite their small size and limited resources.

    And yes, I went from Saabs to Subarus. I'm a proud and very happy owner of a Forester XT.
     
  12. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    That's what I'm wondering. Are these corporations so entrenched into one culture that they can't break their business models even when they're clearly failing? I imagine a room full of people, no one willing to speak-up for fear of not toeing the corporate line. I think once companies get too big or lose their vision, usually in the person of a founder or family, they lose the ability to innovate as nobody wants the risk of change to be on their shoulders. It's easier to go along as things always have and safer for the career path as well.
     
  13. Joll

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    I'm glad Subaru stayed away from the GM parts bin - Saab had to make do with the old Vauxhall Vectra platform on the 900 for ages until the current 9-3 came along (which uses the Ypsilon platform i think?).
    Always liked Saabs though - I'd still rather have a 9-3 than a BMW 3 series of Audi A4. Even better would've been a Rover 75/MG ZT - before they went bankrupt in 2005 (5 years after BMW cut them loose - and made off with the MINI, and Land Rover's 4x4 technology). I don't think the 75 (which was excellent) made it to the US after the debacle of the ill-fated 'Sterling' years.

    Love Scoobys actually - would still prefer the new Impreza hatch to an Evo.
     
  14. MarkLondon

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    Most noticeable retail failure in the UK recently has been Woolworth's which was originally an american company, but had been trading on every high street here for 99 years.
     
  15. Joll

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    Stuff over here seems to get bought out, rather than collapsing completely...

    We tend to break up our companies into small pieces to adhere to competition rules - then watch helplessly as they're swallowed up by foreign companies (especially utilities). It's annoying. :(
     
  16. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    I only know a few of them, none of the stuff I buy or use, so no tears from me.
     
  17. b.c.

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    Some who would place great stock in natural selection and evolutionary processes in nature in turn get bent out of shape when the same applies to corporate entities. I've always held that businesses fail for good reason and therefore should fail.

    For example the recent shut down of Circuit City: Now there was an outfit that needed to go. Most all of my experiences dealing with them have been bad, right up to their bitter end. Besides, ever tried calling one of their stores and getting someone to actually pick up a phone??

    The possibility of failure is imo an essential component of free enterprise. Without it, companies would care even less (than some apparently do) about competitive pricing, quality of merchandise, and customer service.
     
  18. killerb

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    I wouldn't miss any of those brands...

    but if Old Navy & Banana Republic go down, wouldn't GAP soon follow?
     
  19. Joll

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    I wasn't too bothered about Woolies tbh - apart from the job losses. It was miles behind the game. I thought it was just our local store that hadn't been updated for about 30 years - but they were all like that!

    We've seen a lot of big names swallowed up over the past 5 years or so. Some (like Marconi) was as a result of not automatically being given big UK contracts anymore. I think it was a big BT contract they missed out on - because everything has to be put out to tender across the EU legally now.

    The following have all gone recently:

    Abbey National (to Spain's Banco Santander)
    O2 (Spain's Telefonica)
    BOC (Germany's Linde)
    P&O (Dubai Ports World)
    BAA - UK Airport group incl. Heathrow (Spain's Ferrovial)
    Also (I think?) Pilkington to Japan's Nippon.

    Particularly disturbing, imo, was the sale of P&O and BAA. To lose control over the points of entry and exit to your own country seems a bit unwise.

    This follows on from the mass loss of utilities. Complying early to EU competition directives, and breaking up our utilities (also 'redeeming' golden shares in National Power, etc...) left them vulnerable to continental companies which hadn't yet complied to these rules.
    Powergen, Thames Water, NPower, Scottish Power, etc. - are all now foreign owned.

    Plus our mishandling of Royal Mail and BT left them in a right state too - along with overzealous implementation of the competition directives.

    Bah - it's annoying. :mad:
     
  20. crescendo69

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    I liked our Borders bookstore in Knoxville. They never fussed when I sat in their nice chairs and "browsed". I've saved a lot with online coupons for Christmas and birthday shopping. And they had a great CD selection. They even had some of my favorite adult publications, like "Unzipped", "Freshmen", and "Advocate Men", which were sealed in plastic shortly after their opening about ten years ago.

    They also had many musical groups perform in their cafe, as well as wecoming various groups and clubs.

    But after visiting other cities' Boarders, I found the selections and comfort levels were not always the same, and even now the selections in mine are getting more limited.
     
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