Like vultures circling a wounded animal, the private-equity groups have begun to feel out the Gap. It makes perfect sense. Once the mainstay of the mall, the Gap has been reduced to a shadow of its former retail glory. Here the stock price tells the rise and fall of the chain. We all have an item similar to the flowered Gap tank top I loved in back in High School, which has long since been taken to Goodwill.
But even if there is a buyout, is there any hope the Gap can turn itself around? Here is my advice: stop shooting yourself in the foot! Creating other very similar chains like Old Navy (for cheap-clothing lovers), Banana Republic (for the more upscale), Forth & Towne (for Moms), and now Piperlime (for the shoe-obsessed) only spreads out your existing shopping base. Sometimes less is more. Stop cannibalizing the Gap's base for the success of the spin-offs.
If the company were to go the specialty route they would need to market the Gap to a niche audience as well. In most stores you can pinpoint the target market within the two seconds it takes to walk past. (Can you imagine your Grandmother thinking Urban Outfitters was the store for her?) The Gap has no driving conceptual force... other than bland. Hire some savvy marketing gurus and pick something! Anything! Maybe then the Gap will actually have some foot traffic again.
Until that turnaround, I will be shopping elsewhere.