NEW YORK — Steve & Barry’s, meet Laverne & Shirley.
This story first appeared in the February 13, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Port Washington, N.Y.-based retailer of licensed products that range from college logos to the lines of sports figures and actors has a new source of intellectual property: CBS’ library of classic television shows.
Steve & Barry’s and CBS Consumer Products, a division of CBS Entertainment, said Tuesday they have formed a new partnership that will provide the retail chain with access to iconic TV properties such as “The Little Rascals,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Brady Bunch,” “The Love Boat,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley,” “Cheers” and “Beverly Hills 90210.”
Financial terms were not disclosed.
“The CBS properties will be a great addition to our growing portfolio of licensed merchandise,” said Andy Todd, president of Steve & Barry’s. “Right now we are testing some initial designs in our stores. Visual merchandising decisions will be made at a later date, when the expanded collection of CBS branded apparel hits shelves.”
The line will be rolled out to the 257-unit chain this year.
With the CBS deal, Steve & Barry’s seems to be tapping into its original mandate of logo T-shirts and affordable jeans. The retailer’s June introduction of Bitten by Sarah Jessica Parker raised awareness of Steve & Barry’s, and surprised industry experts because the actress chose to be partners with the relatively small and then low-profile chain.
Bitten, a 500-piece collection of apparel, accessories and shoes, encompassing everything from suit separates and dresses to jeans and lingerie — all priced at $19.98 or less — was a turning point for Steve & Barry’s. With Parker’s fashion cachet, the launch was an immediate success. Before Bitten, the chain was known for college-licensed apparel that attracted more of a male audience.
“Overnight, we went to selling more women’s products than men’s products,” Todd said after the launch. “It was company-changing.”
Steve & Barry’s stores, which average 60,000 square feet, already carry apparel from two current CBS prime-time shows, “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race,” and sell apparel designs based on the original “Star Trek” TV series.
“The breadth of properties [in the new deal] has an enormously wide fan base, both in terms of gender and age,” said PJ Pierce, director of licensing at CBS.
Steve & Barry’s is CBS’ first direct-to-retail partner. “This deal is the first time we’ve done anything like this,” Pierce said. “Steve & Barry’s is the hottest thing in retail right now. What they’ve done with Sarah Jessica Parker” is amazing.
The TV show characters “will appeal to people who didn’t grow up with the shows,” Pierce said. “There’s a movement afoot with this retro stuff. Anybody of almost any age is going to know ‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia’ from “The Brady Bunch,” and Norm’s [from “Cheers”] one-liners still exist in pop culture. You have generations that grew up with ‘The Little Rascals.'” And for those who didn’t, design capabilities exist to broaden the appeal, said Pierce, who oversaw the growth of the global licensing division of JLO by Jennifer Lopez at Sweetface before joining CBS.
CBS Consumer Products is working to maximize its portfolios. The division operates four stores. “We’re looking at opening more of our own stores,” Pierce said. “We’re analyzing what’s working and what’s not working. We have some ideas we’re germinating and we’re looking at retail.”