Steve & Barry's: The $1 Billion Powerhouse Selling $9 Dresses

IF rock purists were unsettled last month by the opening of a designer boutique on the site of what once was CBGB, the hard-core Bowery nightclub, imagine how they will feel reading the next sentence: The old Tower Records space a few blocks away on Broadway, for two decades the spot for adolescent reveries of dance, pop and punk, has been leased by Steve & Barry's, a clothing chain where everything costs less than $10.

Steve & Barry's, for the uninitiated, is to fashion what Tower once was to music. Steve & Barry's is manna, a store that sells stylish celebrity-branded clothes at prices that are absurdly inexpensive, lower than those at Old Navy, H & M or Forever 21, undercutting even Wal-Mart by as much as half.

At its 264 barnlike stores in malls across the country, including the perpetually mobbed one at the Manhattan Mall in Midtown, Steve & Barry's offers an assortment of flowery sundresses designed by Sarah Jessica Parker ($8.98), heart-printed hoodies by the Nickelodeon alumna Amanda Bynes ($8.98) and basketball shoes by the New York Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury ($8.98). Lines at the registers are often 20 deep.

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