Retailers were trying to recover Wednesday from an ice storm that walloped states from Oklahoma to Wisconsin, cutting power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, closing schools and disrupting transportation.
Parts of Oklahoma City were especially hard hit, said Bob Benham, owner of Balliet's luxury store, which was able to stay open.
"There is so much damage, streets blocked, power lines down, trees down," he said. "This is the worst devastation I have seen in the 17 years that I've been here. The city looks like bombs were dropped."
States of emergency were declared in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, and President Bush ordered federal emergency aid to Oklahoma. Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska also were affected.
"We've had to take it on the chin in a couple of markets" as the holiday shopping season heads into its final days, said Scott Baskin, president of Mark Shale, a men's and women's specialty store with eight locations in the Chicago area, Dallas, Atlanta, Kansas City and St. Louis.
In Chicago and its suburbs, which were hit by rain, not ice, "The threat was more damaging than the weather," Baskin said. Forecasters had warned of such treacherous conditions that it sounded like "don't go out or you'll die. No one died but the retailers....I hope people have postponed and not completely put off their shopping."
Utica Square Shopping Center in Tulsa, Okla., was open Wednesday after closing the previous day.
"It couldn't have come at a worse time for our tenants," said Steve Mackey, vice president of Helmerich & Payne, which owns the center.
Three Wal-Mart stores in Oklahoma remained closed Wednesday, said Jami LaMontagne, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. "Our thoughts are with the people directly affected by this disaster. We have sent truckloads of relief supplies and merchandise to the Oklahoma City area."
In western Missouri, Joplin's Northpark Mall became a destination for people looking for something to do as they waited for power to be restored. The 990,000-square-foot mall features Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy's, Steve & Barry's and TJ Maxx.
"Christmas is all about planned purchases....We'll bounce back and we expect the momentum to carry us into the rest of the season," marketing manager Lori Jones said.
East Hills Mall in St. Joseph, Mo., was forced to close Tuesday afternoon with the exception of Sears. Operations manager Jayne Simerly said the mall reopened Wednesday and crowds had started to return.
"Before this we were struggling with warm weather, so now we are moving the boots, gloves and hats we wanted to sell before the holiday,'' she said.
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion