Fight for what's left of Bed Bath & Beyond (2023)


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Couples race to find new wedding registries, vendors seek out other customers, and competing retailers promise to take the big blue coupon.

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Fight for what's left of Bed Bath & Beyond (1)

go throughJordin Holman

Engaged couples struggle to navigate Bed Bath & Beyond's shaky wedding registration system. Suppliers struggle to cultivate new business partnerships. Landlords quickly close leases on suddenly empty hypermarkets. On TikTok, a shopper's daily itinerary to a Manhattan store has found a receptive audience.

Nearest at Bed Bath & BeyondChapter 11 Bankruptcy Application, the collapse of the 52-year-old home furnishings giant has led to frustration, grief and a scramble to capitalize on its collapse.

CC Manstrom is a man who feels stuck. Since registering her wedding with the retailer in January, she has found that most of the 30 items on her list have slowly become unavailable. When her aunt visited a location in Fargo, North Dakota, this month, she was told the retailer could no longer track purchases from the registry. Mrs. Manstrom is now concerned that she may receive more George Foreman grills or baked goods as gifts.

The retailer also stopped honoring the credit, meaning Ms Manstrom had used the $60 deposited into her account for gifts that had been bought but could not be used. She was unable to reach a customer service representative by phone, and when she went to a local store, employees were unable to help.

"It's frustrating," said Ms. Manstrom, 25. "It's a new task to tackle on your wedding checklist."

As a backup, Ms. Manstrom and her fiance (whose wedding is planned for July 23) decided to set up another registry on Amazon.


Julie Strider, a spokeswoman for Bed Bath & Beyond, said the retailer is looking for a third-party partner to transfer customer data so shoppers can complete their check-in. Customers will still be able to view and download existing registration data, she added.

Meanwhile, other companies are pouring in and filling the void with new hires. Etsy published a wedding registry on May 10 and said thousands of couples had registered. Emily Forrest, a spokeswoman for Zola, an online registry company, said it had received "hundreds of emails from couples" asking to transfer their Bed Bath & Beyond registry service.

Competitors to Buy Baby, which Bed Bath & Beyond owns and is liquidating, are also seeing benefits. Online registry company Babylist said that since Bed Bath & Beyond filed for bankruptcy, the number of registries created on its platform in the past few weeks has increased by 35% compared to a year ago. The company's chief executive, Natalie Gordon, said more than 1,200 registered accounts have been transferred to its site.

Bed Bath & Beyond and Buy Buy Baby suppliers have revised their strategies in recent months. As retailers try toTransition planStill, because Bed Bath & Beyond is known for its ability to offer a wide variety of products, it continues to attract smaller companies trying to raise their profile.

"I think there will be some lost opportunities for certain brands that have stopped selling with Bed Bath & Beyond," Steve Greenspoon, president of the International Housewares Association and CEO of home storage brand Honey-Can-Do, said last year .

With Buy Buy Baby out of business, Christina Carbonell and Galyn Bernard, founders of unisex clothing brand Primary, are rethinking their store strategy. They felt the effects of the retailer's financial problems soon after their clothes hit the shelves last April. When Bed Bath & Beyond launched its turnaround program in August, Buy Buy Baby reduced orders with Primary, as it had with several other suppliers. At the store, they discovered that their stock was low.

The experience allowed the founders to focus on profitability, they said, without relying on sales from the Buy Buy Baby partnership, which makes up about 10% of their business.

"Going into my next wholesale partnership, I prefer to start small, learn and build on it, rather than go big right away," said Ms. Carbonell., the online retailer known for selling larger furniture like sofas and beds, is using the opportunity to woo former Bed Bath & Beyond suppliers. In the second half of 2022, Overstock has steadily expanded its Keurig and Mr. Coffee pots and pans and coffee machine offers.

"Today, Bed Bath & Beyond's suppliers continue to look for alternative distribution channels and expand their footprint with us," Overstock CEO Jonathan Johnson said in an interview. "When others are struggling, more people are willing to sell to us because they need distribution."

Other retailers use Bed Bath & Beyond's own tools to win back the shoppers they keep.container store,diverseRegional department store Boscov's said it would honor the big blue coupons even after Bed Bath & Beyond stopped accepting them. (Big Lots has stopped accepting coupons.) These once-ubiquitous business cards are likely to be around for a while.

While the tactic of accepting coupons handed out by now-defunct competitors is fun, it can generate more buzz than sales, said Kelly Goldsmith, a marketing professor at Vanderbilt University.

"Will it necessarily increase your income directly? Probably not," Ms Goldsmith said. "But it's a good way to remind people that you're there, and if they need an alternative to Bed Bath & Beyond, you can deliver."


For now, many Bed Bath & Beyond stores are still open, and shoppers are keeping an eye out for clearance sales. Since the bankruptcy announcement, Ellie Maeda has made a habit of checking out the latest discounts at Bed Bath & Beyond's last Manhattan location as soon as it opens and sharing them with her 5,400 followers on TikTok.

In her post,she gives updatesAbout the things that are still well in stock (coffee pods and cutlery) and the pile of new products that are appearing (cleaning systems and Breville blenders). She regrets not having marked down enough on items to make her purchase (KitchenAid mixer and plates).

"I'm just a girl with a dream, 40 percent achieved," said 27-year-old Ms. Maeda. "I so want everyone to get what they want. If we all wait together, hopefully sales will be a little bit better."

Amazon, Walmart, Target and Kohl's are expected to be the retailers that will benefit the most when Bed Bath & Beyond closes its doors for good. While they may see sales rising, some analysts warn that not all of the bankrupt retailer's sales will be absorbed by competitors. The market for household goods may shrink.

"The people who actually bought them wouldn't shop anywhere else," said Dave Marcotte, senior vice president at Kantar Consulting. "A lot of the money was lost along the way."

That was the case when Circuit City filed for bankruptcy in 2009, he said.

One notable difference between Bed Bath & Beyond's bankruptcy and the retailer's bankruptcy during the 2008 downturn is that it likely won't leave many empty storefronts after the bankruptcy.

In the weeks since Bed Bath & Beyond said it would close its 480 stores by the end of June, Brandon Svec, who studies retail analytics at real estate brokerage CoStar, has watched potential tenants pour in. The dealer site signed a lease and is on its way out. With direct negotiations between landlords and tenants, demand is so high that some places will never hit the open market, he said.

Grocers like Natural Grocers, discount retailers like Burlington, T.J. Maxx and Five Below and gyms like Crunch Fitness and Urban Air are among the tenants that moved in after Bed Bath & Beyond left. Canadian tirePaid $1.6 millionAcquired 10 former Bed Bath & Beyond locations this month.

In some cases, Americans' obsession with brick-and-mortar retail is disappearing, and these places are giving way to a new pastime: landlords are movingPickle Ball GymEnter the old Bed Bath & Beyond store.

There's a lot of good property out there," Mr. Svec said. "Some places take a little longer to sell. But for the most part, it seems like a good time for it to happen from a market standpoint. "

Jordyn Holman is a retail reporter for The Times. She previously worked at Bloomberg News, where she covered retail and diversity in corporate America. @Jordan Journal

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