Urban Outfitters asks to sell booze

The decidedly suburban mall clothing chain needs a bar in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood more than the locals need it, however.

By Jason Notte Sep 17, 2013 8:15AM
Pedestrians walk past the Urban Outfitters Inc. store in San Francisco, Calif. (© David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Having a hard time selling syringe and prescription-bottle novelties? Why not dispense with the jokes and just go ahead and sell alcohol already?

Disgruntled teen clothier Urban Outfitters (URBN) -- which was last seen halting sales of drug-themed items after receiving complaints from just about every parenting, alcohol treatment and controlled-substances group with a spokesperson and some boilerplate outrage -- is now making noise about opening a bar in one of its shops.

That bar, which is being proposed for a yet-to-open location in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section, according to the New York Daily News, is doing little to help the retailer's cause.

The problem isn't that Urban Outfitters usually caters to a far younger demographic than the post-collegians it's targeting in Williamsburg. It's that the oversize T-shirt and novelty shop seems to believe that the only way to get area hipsters to shop there is to pour them bad drinks in the youth-based retail apparel equivalent of a Kmart snack bar. In Williamsburg, however, the outrage is tempered by a heavy dose of local sarcasm.

"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, D-Greenpoint, said in a statement. "We must ask ourselves, 'Do we really want people drunk when they are buying their skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts?'"

In Williamsburg, this isn't stunning anyone. The current inflow of young residents has been going strong for more than a decade, with only net worth and strollers separating the newest arrivals from the old. The neighborhood is considering 37 new liquor license applications and is renewing more than 100 others. In a place that typically prefers its watering holes locally grown, Urban Outfitters likely isn't angling to be anyone's new regular stop.

It just wants the cachet. Already a shop where high-school kids buy clothes that look like those worn by their thrift-store-frequenting older brothers and sisters, Urban Outfitters benefits by simply existing in Williamsburg. The idea is that by planting a store there, it gives off the vibe that locals might shop there and hang out in its bar.

Whether that translates into any real-world credibility remains to be seen, but a store that flourishes in the suburbs and exurbs of the country by selling what it deems the "urban" experience needs some big city experience beyond the local mall.

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Sep 17, 2013 9:36AM

Maybe they figure people will be more likely to buy their crap if they are drunk.


Oh.... the stuff I have bought on Amazon after a night of bar hopping....

Sep 17, 2013 1:42PM
Great Idea.....all malls need a good bar.   Husbands wouldn't mind taking the wife shopping if they could wait watching sports with a cold one.......and wives would not waste a lot of time knowing their husbands are having a good time drinking every minute they shop.
Sep 17, 2013 12:58PM
you know after a few shots of 151 that outfit looks good on you .
Sep 17, 2013 12:53PM
I went to Urban Outfitters, sat down, got hustled for drinks by a wench with little clothing on, got drunk, couldn't find my wallet, found out later I had my shorts on backwards........., oh, wait a minute, that was another place.  Urban Outfitters sell clothes?
Sep 17, 2013 1:01PM

I guess they figure drunk people will buy their waaaaaaaaay overpriced wares.

The drinks will be overpriced as well LOL.

Sep 17, 2013 1:49PM

 "We must ask ourselves, 'Do we really want people drunk when they are buying their skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts?'"


Say whaa?   Although the idea of a bar in UO is patently ridiculous, what's his beef with buying jeans and tees while tipsy?  Is buying the wrong size or brand somehow going to cause illegal public unmatchiness? 

Sep 18, 2013 5:21PM
I propose re-introducing T shirts that were worn by a mother daughter team at Disneyland a few years back. The two had purchased Mickey Mouse T shirts...cut the ears out of the T shirts...then EXPOSED THEIR BREASTS  out through the Mickey Mouse Ear Holes !!! The picture was taken by the husband/father while the women were walking down MAIN STREET. Needless to say there was quite a bit of attention gathered by the two women. Part of the attention was gathered by Disneyland Security and the family was banned from Disneyland FOR LIFE ! GOOFY evidently had no sense of humor...LOL   
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