OSWEGO – Dressbarn will slowly but surely be closing its doors across the United States, including its store off of Douglas Road south of Route 34 in Oswego.
Ascena Retail Group announced the closure of about 650 stores on Monday, May 20. The New Jersey-based retailer said in a statement the move is to shift the company's focus on its more profitable brands.
“This decision was difficult, but necessary, as the Dressbarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment,”áSteven Taylor, chief financial officer for Dressbarn, said in a separate Monday, May 20 news release.
Gary Muto, chief executive of Ascena Retail Group, wrote a letter to customers about the announcement. In the letter, he thanked customers for more than 50 years of their loyalty.
"It has been our pleasure to serve you, making it all the more difficult to let you know that the decision has been made to begin winding down the Dressbarn business," Muto said in the letter.
Plans for the closures of individual stores, including the Oswego location, have not yet been announced following the initial Monday, May 20 announcement. Shawn Buchanan, spokesman for Ascena Retail Group, declined additional comment on record about closure timelines for individual stores, including the Oswego location.
Other stores under the Ascena Retail Group umbrella include Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lane Bryant and Justice. The company also sold its Maurice's brand to London-based OpCapita earlier this month.
A final shutdown date has not been announced for Dressbarn. In the meantime, stores will remain open and operate as normal and there will be no changes to return, refund or gift card policies.
Oswego and the exit of larger chains
The announcement follows similar ones of other larger brand-name stores closing so far this year, including Payless ShoeSource and Party City.
Corinna Cole, economic development director for the village of Oswego, said there has been a long-documented retail downturn as a result of the larger trend of buying goods online coupled with changing demographics and tastes. She said that's why the village tries to diversify its retail base as much as possible, especially in areas like the corridor on Route 34.
"While we're going to see some changes as market adjusts to these differences, we also do see a lot of interest in those commercial spaces," Cole said.
Jenette Sturges, community engagement coordinator for the village of Oswego, said the village is targeting entertainment or experiential spending habits. She said most people who want to buy any tangible goods could just buy those goods on online websites like Amazon.
"What they can't buy on Amazon is a gym membership," Sturges said.
Sturges said sales tax, which is one of Oswego's primary sources of revenue, brings in about $9.5 million a year in for the village. She said about 51% of all sales taxes paid in Oswego are paid by non-residents shopping in the village's stores.
Cole and Sturges declined comment on how much sales tax revenue separate stores like Dressbarn, Party City or Payless ShoeSource brought in individually, citing confidentiality concerns.
Cole said retail space landlords are also very incentivized in finding new tenants. She said there's a lot of doom and gloom sometimes with retail downturns like this, but she thinks the village is doing well, especially with development possibilities on the horizon for the U.S. Route 34 and Orchard Road corridors and in the downtown area.
“Overall, we’re very optimistic and satisfied with state of retail in Oswego,” Cole said.