News Feature | September 17, 2013

Happy Hour At Urban Outfitters?

Source: Retail Solutions Online
Sam Lewis

By Sam Lewis, associate editor
Follow Me On Twitter @SamIAmOnFood

Urban Outfitters Sign

Planned Brooklyn, NY location applies for liquor license

Recently, Urban Outfitters has been making some pretty big waves. In July, the retailer discontinued a t-shirt in its inventory for its design’s resemblance to a Chicago street gang’s symbol. The gang, known as The Gangster Disciples, is Chicago’s largest gang with a long history of criminal behavior and violence. Urban Outfitter’s states it had no knowledge of the symbol or its affiliation to the gang prior to making the shirt part of its inventory.

On a positive note, in August, the Philadelphia-based company posted excellent sales numbers for the second-quarter. The company bucked the trend of other clothing retailers, like Kohl’s and Macy’s, which struggled during the second-quarter, leading to cutbacks in annual profit forecasts.

Now, Urban Outfitters has submitted a liquor license application for its planned Williamsburg store, in North Brooklyn, NY. The area, once filled with meat packing facilities and a grocery store, has undergone changes from industrial to commercial, as bars, clubs, and retailers are opening locations in the morphing neighborhood. Urban is just one of 37 establishments in the neighborhood applying for a liquor license.

It’s not every day that a clothing retailer decides it wants to open a bar in its confines, and some people aren’t very happy about it. “I can't think of a circumstance for which it would be appropriate for Urban Outfitters to have a liquor license,” City Councilman Stephen Levin told the New York Daily News. Still, Urban is not embarking on any new territory. In 2009, Lost Boys, a Washington, D.C. clothing boutique, offered male shoppers free beer in an effort to increase impulse spending. Since the alcohol was free to customers, the establishment didn’t need to apply for a liquor license. However, this is where Urban Outfitters differs. Alcohol will be for sale, resulting in the necessity of a liquor license, which might make the clothing retailer the first of its kind to do so.

It appears that most of the people polled by the Huffington Post disagree with Mr. Levin’s position on the issue. At the time of writing, almost 22 percent of those polled thought Urban Outfitters selling alcohol is a great idea. Another 38 percent were apathetic, choosing to let the clothing retailer do what it wants to do. The remaining 40 percent voted no, Urban Outfitters selling alcohol is a stupid idea. For boyfriends and husbands being dragged along on their significant others’ long and boring shopping escapades, we can only imagine that their votes were cast into the favoring 22 percent.