Bed Bath & Beyond buyers hurry to use all these coupons
For many buyers, Bed Bath & Beyond’s bankruptcy filing on Sunday was a call to action.
Customers — both loyal and lapsed — received an email from the homewares retailer around 8am, telling them the company had decided to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The 360 Bed Bath & Beyond stores would close soon, as would the 120 Buy Buy Baby locations.
Shoppers have until Wednesday to redeem their coupons. Across the country, they collected the ubiquitous 20 percent off blue slips, stuffed them into bags and plastic bags, and made their way to the nearest Bed Bath & Beyond.
Sylvia Ward, a self-proclaimed Bronx Bed Bath & Beyond lover, said Monday at a store in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood that news of the closure had “absolutely devastated her.” Then she learned that she only had a few days to redeem coupons.
“I had to walk down here today!” she said.
Ms Ward said she brought about seven coupons to use on items, including two Simplehuman soap dispensers, kitchen timers and about 14 packs of Clorox wipes, and estimated she saved $30.
Bed Bath & Beyond, which opened in 1971, had a unique cultural cachet among major retailers. It served as a recurring storyline on Comedy Central’s “Broad City”; a plot device for Adam Sandler’s 2006 film Click; and a talking point for celebrities demonstrating their relationship skills on late-night shows. Facebook groups were formed where people could trade the retailer’s coupons.
Over the decades, these coupons have appeared reliably in millions of inboxes — and more recently, email inboxes — offering discounts on home goods like kitchen appliances, fluffy pillows, and wooden hangers. People gave them away to new homeowners and college students, kept them in kitchen drawers and car glove compartments. At least one customer used them as a business card, wrote their phone number on the back of the coupons, and gave them to other regulars they thought were attractive.
A steady stream of customers passed through the Bed Bath & Beyond store in Chelsea on Sunday. People were walking around looking at heated towel rails and big pillows. While some employees in blue aprons asked where they could find specific products, they also took the time to ask how workers felt about the site’s closure.
Bobbi Kimberly was one of those customers. The chain’s bankruptcy news was the motivation she needed to finally use a coupon she’d been holding on to and see the store one more time before it closed.
“It’s like losing a buddy because it’s something you can depend on,” said Ms. Kimberly, a yoga teacher. She said she would miss roaming the shops, which kept her active and social.
After hearing about the bankruptcy, loyal customers of Bed Bath & Beyond took to social media. The company’s name became a trending topic on Twitter. People shared odes to the retailer, posted TikTok videos of themselves hitting the stores and alerted their friends and families to the chain’s closure via their Facebook status. Reddit threads about Bed Bath & Beyond, which became a “Meme Stock” favorite during the pandemic, lit up with chatter about its demise.
Some shoppers gave unused coupons to other customers in stores and texted friends and family to encourage them to use theirs before it was too late.
The wave of support came too late for Bed Bath & Beyond. Despite a surge early in the pandemic, as quarantined Americans bought items to decorate their homes, sales soon began to plummet. The retailer’s supply chain was stretched, operating costs were rising, and sellers held back on shipping inventory as they got nervous about getting paid on time.
In recent months, Bed Bath & Beyond customers have found their shelves sparsely stocked. The chain had cut hundreds of jobs and closed stores to survive. Its bankruptcy filing stated that “the past 12 months have undoubtedly been the most difficult and turbulent in the turbulent history of Bed Bath & Beyond.”
Jean Massaro was at a Bed Bath & Beyond store in Yonkers Monday morning with her coupons in tow. She said she didn’t shop online and ignored the discounts the retailer emailed her in favor of the specific discounts she had, some from People magazine.
“I really love this store,” said Ms. Massaro. “I’m upset, and so are many others.”
But it’s been years since Bed Bath & Beyond was at its peak. In 2020, it said it would withdraw sending coupons to buyers after investors questioned whether it would hurt the company’s margins. Shoppers balked, and the decision seemed like one in a growing list of ways the chain was taking away the things customers loved most about their shopping experience.
“I used to come here a lot,” said David Salidor, who stopped by a Manhattan store Monday with some coupons. “That’s because they have stuff that a lot of stores don’t have.”
He added: “I’m sorry it’s going. But these are strange times, strange times.”
Some storegoers were disappointed Monday that they didn’t see stunning sales. The high discounts characteristic of liquidation sales begin only on Wednesday – as soon as Bed Bath & Beyond stops accepting coupons. The company said it expects customers to be able to use gift cards until May 8.
For buyers who have baby and marriage registers, the company said it would be working with an alternative platform to transfer their data. Some Bed Bath & Beyond customers said they would likely go to retailers like TJ Maxx, Kohl’s and Amazon to fill the gap.
Thea Derecola, a hairstylist and educator in Chelsea, took a bag of coupons into the store and used them to buy two pillows at 20 percent off. Without the coupons, she said, she thinks the pillows would have cost less on Amazon.
Her bouncer used to hold Bed Bath & Beyond vouchers for her, said Ms. Derecola, a longtime shopper who used to work across the street and visited the store weekly.
Daniel Duque, a retired teacher in Brooklyn Heights, said he hopes this isn’t really the end of Bed Bath & Beyond, which expects all of its locations to be closed by March 30.
“I’m still waiting for a miracle,” he said. He’d shopped at the store for years, but not as much since moving to Brooklyn.
A sense of nostalgia is common when a retailer goes out of business. It’s similar to the reaction shoppers had when Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy, said Joanie Demer, co-founder of Krazy Coupon Lady, an online community that shares discount tips and deals.
“There’s suddenly all this altruism for the brand,” Ms. Demer said. “It’s like, OK, but you didn’t shop there. They shopped on Amazon like the rest of us.”
Chelsea Gordon, an Atlanta entrepreneur who owns Cooking Code, only found out about Bed Bath & Beyond’s bankruptcy Sunday night. She’d spent the day preparing meals using kitchen appliances like her juicer, which she bought at the retailer.
She is a frequent buyer. Last year she used Bed Bath & Beyond for her home registration and Buy Buy Baby to register gifts for her baby shower.
When Ms. Gordon learned she only had a few days to redeem her coupons, Ms. Gordon made a plan to go to her nearby store right after her Pilates class on Monday morning. She said she also wanted to make sure her mum heard the news, as she’d often texted about Bed Bath & Beyond coupons.
“That coupon, that’s one less topic of conversation,” Ms. Gordon said with a sigh.