Friday, March 20, 2009

The parrot is back

One of the more annoying but identifiable radio advertising mascots, the Marty’s Shoes parrot, is back. Consigned to advertising purgatory when Secaucus, N.J.-based Marty’s closed its 47 stores last year, the parrot returned to the airwaves this week hawking a resurrected chain of, for now, three units.

Operated by the founding Samowitz family, Marty’s three stores are in Garwood, Greenbrook and Westwood. The new chain is headquartered in Westwood.

Marty’s return from the dead is but another example that retail franchises may have multiple lives.

Despite going out of business at the end of 2008, West Coast-based Mervyns is seeking an afterlife. Last month the Morriss family bought back the intellectual property as well as naming rights to the company founded by Mervin Morriss. Media reports suggest Morriss’ sons want to relaunch as an internet-based retailer.

That’s the route Montgomery Ward has taken back to life. Though its stores, catalog and Internet operations closed in 2001, Ward was revived on the Web and in print in 2004.

Bringing companies back to life, or at the very least buying up the trademark rights and then reselling them to parties who see equity in the brands, appears to be a thriving cottage industry, made more so by the continuing economic hardships that are forcing many retailers to discontinue operations. Among the retail brand names purchased and awaiting a second life are Linens ‘n Things, The Sharper Image and Bombay Co.

Among the group, only Marty’s had a distinctive radio personality. Truth be told, to this discerning listener’s ear, this time out of the cage the parrot has a slightly less strident squawk.

— Murray Forseter

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