Store Wars 2014 – Who’s on the bubble?

Looking at the "Teams" fighting to get into Store Wars '14

We’re less than one week away from the tournament getting underway. Well yes, that other one too, but we’re talking about Store Wars here. 16 retailers enter the bracket, with one champion eventually being crowned. Your votes decide every day which store moves on, as well as which one gets the red slash o’ death, and thus relegated to the dustbin of competitive retail history until next year.

The bracket for our 4th annual Store Wars competition gets released on Monday, March 17th, with the first match-up taking place the following day. The selection committee is already hard at work, and there will be some minor tweaks this year (yes, there will be “regions” that’ll pit somewhat similar stores/retailers against each other). Every year a couple of new stores fight their way onto the bracket, and that makes the competition to just make the tournament fierce. The following are all retailers who are sitting on the bubble, in danger of not getting in. Who deserves a spot? Who doesn’t? Make your case in the comments.


jcpenney bubble

Why are they on the bubble?  They’ve had a manic year, haven’t they? Even though they kicked Ron Johnson & Nick Wooster to the curb, the long tail of their supply chain still produced the best ultra cheap suit of 2013, as well as a few worthy items for last fall. But is the time of affordable, yet style-forward clothes at JC Penney coming to an end? They don’t even call themselves “jcp” anymore. They’re fully back to JCPenney.

Previous Store Wars Experience: Lost a squeaker in round 1 vs. Target last year. Did not compete in the years before that.


Billy Reid Bubble

Why are they on the bubble?  A reach, financially, in terms of being “affordable”. But they do run sales, and if you’re on top of it, you can land one of their high quality pieces for a reasonable price. It won’t ever be cheap, but this American designer sure knows how to have a garment (or pair of shoes, or bag…) put together. Simple, classic looks that sometimes carry a twist. Makers of the famous and drool-worthy Bond Peacoat seen in Skyfall. Brick & Mortar stores look & feel fantastic.

Previous Store Wars Experience: Has not competed.


CM Bubble

Why are they on the bubble?  Sale section or bust. $100 for a short sleeve popover? J. Crew doesn’t even try to pull prices like that. Plus their blazers & suit jackets sure seem to look chopped in the tail, don’t they?

Previous Store Wars Experience: Has not competed.


Macys bubble

Why are they on the bubble?  Yep. Macy’s is on the bubble. With each passing week, Macy’s men’s section starts to feel more and more like Kohl’s or the old version of JC Penney. There seems to be a bit of a hole in their selection in relation to demographics. Stuff is either way too young and trendy (remember when their INC brand made things that wasn’t over embellished?) or old and stuffy. Bar III is a house brand that can be tempting though. They also carry Allen Edmonds and don’t seem to exclude those from most sales. Free shipping doesn’t kick in until $99, and it can be steep before that.

Previous Store Wars Experience: Lots. Was bounced in the first round by Brooks Brothers last year, and eliminated in the 2nd round in each of the two years before that.


Express Bubble

Why are they on the bubble?  Logos. ALWAYS WITH THE LOGOS. What happened to their signature polos anyway? Some of their blazers can be tempting, and if you catch a really good sale + code, their suits aren’t half bad for around $200 or under. They make a decent summer shoe too. In-store experience is likely to make you feel old as hell if you’re over 26.

Previous Store Wars Experience: Lost in the first round in 2011. Did not compete in 2012. Did not compete in 2013.


Zara Bubble

Why are they on the bubble? For the US, there’s GAP. For the rest of the world, most turn to Zara. They can produce some incredible values, but a lot of their stuff is a little too trendy, and a little too thin on quality.

Previous Store Wars Experience: Has not competed.


MD Bubble

Why are they on the bubble?  Zara’s Banana Republic-like big brother. More money, better looks, but hardly ever on sale. Prices can start a little high for most. Little to no brick & mortar presence here in the U.S., but they do offer free shipping & returns.

Previous Store Wars Experience: Has not competed.



Why are they on the bubble?  Finally launched an e-commerce site. Some of their products can be steals. Others seem to really struggle when it comes to quality. Like Zara, they can lean a little trendy, and they seem to use a lot of synthetics in their fabrics.

Previous Store Wars Experience: Has not competed.

Thoughts from you guys?  Which, if any of these stores deserves a spot in this year’s tournament?  Any other stores on the bubble worth a mention?  Leave your take in the comments below.  For reference, here’s the final bracket from last year.  Bubble Photo Credit: Rhett Maxwell