J.Crew’s Mickey Drexler Hates Shopping Malls
J.Crew head honcho Mickey Drexler is a retail legend who isn’t known to mince words. So it’s no surprise he didn’t think twice about criticizing the very thing that makes him a whole lot of money: the not-so-great American shopping mall.
Yesterday industry leaders gathered for the Financo Forum, a panel put on by retail-focused investment bank Financo. While Drexler wasn’t on the panel, he made sure to voice his opinion from the audience, to the dismay of mall developers in attendance:
“We pay a lot of rent. I don’t see any excitement or improvement in 98 percent [of the nation’s malls]. Right now, there is a diminishing return. I just wonder where it all takes us. There are too many units in apparel.”
He also challenged the panel’s optimism about the general state of retail, which he asserts is plagued by excessive discounting, inferior products, and lost foot traffic. He even complained about a mall that sells popcorn in the space below one of his stores, causing the J.Crew space to smell. (Personally, we love the smell of popcorn, but whatever.) Various mall developers fired back at Drexler with quips like, “It’s not like you haven’t made a living off shopping malls, maybe two livings compared to a lot of us.”
Our take? Drexler is willing to say what others won’t, which is how he got to where he is. We don’t love malls, and much prefer to do our shopping in standalone stores. However, this isn’t always possible! While we can avoid malls in New York, we grew up in the suburban Midwest where there are few alternatives to malls. Of course now there’s the option of online shopping, which Drexler also addressed: ”There’s something not right when we put a buck into the internet and make twice as much money as opening a store.” We don’t know if we think it’s not right, but times certainly are a-changin’.