Allbirds, Stride Rite, Fye, LL Bean & More (Long Sheep Farmers & Footprint Consolidation, Short Mozzarella Sticks)

When Allbirds opened its SoHo location late last year, we were convinced that it would be a short-lived hype storm. Maybe we were, gulp…wrong? The footwear startup is now credited for launching a wool fad, with AdidasLululemon ($LULU) and Under Armour ($UA) all adding wool to its product line. The result? Supply issues. The sheep population in Australia and New Zealand is at a 100-year low and, therefore, wool prices are on the rise. Are consumers seeing price increases? Not yet. But it looks imminent.

Looks like Stride Rite could’ve used some wool shoes in its stocks. Parent company, Wolverine Worldwide Inc. ($WWW), announced earlier this week that the children’s shoe seller closed 215 stores (leaving only 80 remaining). There are heaps and heaps of “#retailapocalypse” lists out there: query whether they’re taking into account all of the non-bankruptcy closures…?

Speaking of non-bankruptcy retail closures, in entertainment retail, Fye has quietly shed stores. Yes, Fye still exists to satisfy all of your CD buying needs (apparently they didn’t get the memo that cds are being discontinued all over the place). They shed 30 stores since last year and 14 since last quarter.

In the search for a penny here and a penny there in retail finances, the latest hot topic - in the wake of L.L. Bean’s criticized decision to scrap its endless and uber-forgiving return policy is…wait for it…return policies (frankly, we, also, wondered by L.L. Bean didn’t simply implement a registration policy). While we feel as if the issue is a bit over-blown - what percentage of people make buying decisions based on the return policy (serious question: email us if you have a view)? - this is yet another consideration that retailers are grappling with in real time.

Interestingly, while incumbent retailers wrestle with all of these challenges, Snap Inc.($SNAP) just auditioned its “discovery” chops with a Nike Inc. ($NKE) partnership showcasing the new Air Jordan kicks. Here’s the kicker via ReCode:

“Guests were then able to purchase the sneaker right within Snapchat with the help of technology from the e-commerce software company Shopify. And most of the kicks were delivered to customers on the same day, thanks to a logistics startup called Darkstore.”

Order in app. Seamless payment with Shopify (which accepts ApplePay - just a thumbprint). Same day delivery via Darkstore (address already embedded thanks to ApplePay). Retailers are so effed.

And, finally, as yet another example of the casual dining space spiraling downward, Dine Brands Global ($DIN) indicated earlier this week that it intends to shutter 80 Applebee’s locations, on top of the nearly 100 it shut last year.