End of an Era

Shopping is a woman thing.  It’s a contact sport like football.  Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase.  ~Erma Bombeck, American humorist and writer

Last week we learned one of our mall’s major department stores was closing its doors for good.

In retrospect, we should have seen this coming. After all, for at least the last five years, this store has been riding the Struggle Bus:

  • “Fashionable” clothing isn’t too popular in staid Central Illinois
  • Animal prints and dull colors don’t go over well here either
  • Buyers don’t understand “petite” also includes tiny great-grandmas
  • Overseas seamstresses can’t seem to cut clothing for Midwest bodies
  • Materials have become flimsy and “cheap”
  • Prices are high in a challenged economy

I don’t work in retail. Never have, actually. But I like to shop — don’t most women? — and there are certain stores I find myself patronizing regularly.

This was one of them.

When you work for yourself … in a tech field, no less … you pretty much get to choose your favorite look.

Mine is casual. Classic.

No frills, ruffles, high heels. No dresses either.

Still, occasions demand I have some “fancy” clothes in my closet, just in case.

And this store was a good place to find everything from business suits and dresses to Polo shirts and jeans.

I’ll miss it.

I spent Saturday trying to score a Going-Out-Of-Business bargain, but I came away sorely disappointed.

Gauging by the scarcity of shopping bags exiting the store, others felt the same.

Items that were 40 percent off last week were now only 10 percent off.

Wow.

And the liquidators have some hard and fast rules — no store cards, only cash or bank cards, and all sales are final.

Gee, it seems like they’re still riding that Struggle Bus!

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21 thoughts on “End of an Era

  1. I hate liquidators. I worked in a men’s store in college and a liquidator showed up because the owner decided to close. What a mess. It would have been better just to sell out and quit than to have these guys take over. Thanks, Debbie.

  2. “Items that were 40 percent off last week were now only 10 percent off.”

    Wow Debbie, that odd because when most stores liquidate, the percentage off usually starts lower (10-15%) and then goes higher (40-50%) as it gets closer to the closing.

    Isn’t it sad when a retail store closes? And it’s happening more and more, all over the U.S. As you know, I AM in retail, so it’s somewhat scary to see so many retailers struggling to keep their doors open. However, in the retail business I’m in (and particularly the type of store in which I work), we’ve seen no drop-off in our shoppers because it’s a retail business in which women actually prefer shopping in person rather than online. Our customers actually enjoy coming in, trying things on first, then buying them.

    It seems that online sales are taking over so many retail stores.

    Have a SUPER week, my friend!

    X to you and Dallas

    • Ron, I apologize. By “last week” I meant before the liquidation. This store used to have some really GOOD sales and offer lots of coupons for purchases. All that, of course, is now gone. I suppose the liquidators have started with 10 percent off and will gradually up it until everything is gone. I have no idea what they’ll do with what’s left over — perhaps send it to an outlet store or donate to charity??

      I’m glad your store is surviving. While I’m delighted to be able to shop online for some things, there are plenty of other things that are nearly impossible to buy without touching the material, seeing the actual colors, and trying on for size. Besides, “retail therapy” is a wonderful way to spend a few hours, don’t you agree?

      Happy Monday (hope yours isn’t as gloomy as ours!) xx

  3. I’ve never been an enthusiastic shopper so turned to online shopping gleefully when it arrived. But now when I wander down our high street and see all the empty shops and the lack of people just wandering around, I feel incredibly guilty. And it’s always sad when a shop you’ve used forever suddenly disappears. Hope the mall manages to fill the space with something exciting…

    (Had to laugh at your tiny great-grandmas comment – shopping for clothes for my 4′ 10″ mother got to be impossible as young people grew and grew! There’s only so much hem you can take up… ;) )

    • I enjoy online shopping, too, but sometimes I just need to get out and wander the store aisles! I think what I’m going to miss most is being able to carry an armload of stuff into a dressing room and try it all on, without having to repackage and return the ones that won’t work for me.

      HaHa, my mom might have an inch on yours! She’s finding it awfully hard to shop these days — everything looks too old or too young. I don’t guess manufacturers realize the senior citizens often are the ones with the most income, yet they’re pretty set in their ways and want a certain look (none of those shoulder cutouts, raggedy jeans, or short-shorts!!)

  4. I confess I’m not a shopper. I used to take my mom, but now I haven’t been in a department store or mall for… a long time. Two years? Probably. I did have to make one foray over to the Apple Store in one of our malls, but that was more like a search and destroy mission than shopping.

    One of our big malls has become a satellite campus for a community college, and that’s working out well. I’ve heard that the best clothing retail in our area right now is upscale resale. There are a good number of those stores, and they provide what I like: a smaller venue, fewer choices, and better service. I can’t stand the huge grocery stores, either. I don’t need 115 choices in the cereal aisle!

    • Linda, there are times when nothing but “touching and rolling” will do. I can’t count how often I’ve been disappointed with something I’ve ordered online. Do they realize that “cotton” comes in many weights, from the filmy to the thick, and they just can’t describe that to my satisfaction?

      I sympathize with your desire to spend time away from shopping malls. Too often, they become hangouts for teens and loiterers. I have a friend who loves resale shops, but I’ve never been that enthused with them. The thought of wearing a dead person’s clothes just doesn’t sit well with me!

      • Dead people? Oh, my. That’s not what our resale shops are about. They’re the place to get expensive, hardly-worn clothes that have been discarded by well-to-do women who have moved on to the next big fashion statement. They’re just wonderful places — not bargain basement or thrift store in the least!

  5. Great post!
    By any chance, are you referring to Macy’s? I used to shop there all the time, but over the years, I noticed a difference in the quality of clothing and slowly stopped going altogether. Makes me sad, though, seeing the end of an era. I heard they were closing a lot of their stories. Sears by me closed about a year ago. That was sad too, because I still shopped their for appliances and mattresses, which I guess, when you think about it, those are not items I need to regularly buy, like clothing. I know some would like to bring retail back. Bricks and mortar and all that. But the reality is our way of shopping has changed. The shopping center near me, however, has seen a resurgence. I think it’s clever what the owner, Westfield Mall, has done. Seeing that people are shopping online now, they’ve turned the mall into a place to hang out. There are so many “sitting areas,” some with indoor feel and others with outdoor. There are now firepits, alcoves, all kinds of chairs, lounge chairs, some seating that can turn into beds. There are concerts on the weekend, outdoor eating areas, etc. Makes the entire mall conducive to spending time there, with the assumption that you’ll buy something while there. They’ve added lots of eating places too. I think they’re being forward thinkers. Downside? It’s become so successful, they’re now charging for parking!

    • Hi Monica. No, I wasn’t referring to Macy’s. In fact, our Macy’s stores seem to be doing okay. We lost our Sears store a while back; the Penney’s seemed to be struggling for a while but now seems better positioned.

      I think “blaming” these store closings on the popularity of online shopping, though, is a copout. After all, “everybody” said newspapers would die once online news became popular, and that hasn’t happened — they’ve just been forced to re-tool and offer news in other ways. Stores will have to do the same. Maybe they go with smaller facilities offering one sample, then direct buyers to their website. I don’t know. I’m far from an expert!

  6. Yes it is sad seeing these department stores closing up and shutting down. I know it will have big impact on malls in smaller communities like where my parents live.

    • A store closing, as you know, affects more than just the employees. It impacts many parts of an area’s economy, from restaurants to gas stations to other stores. Everybody seems to be competing for the dollar. Perhaps if people had the opportunity to see and feel a sample item, they’d at least have a better idea what they were getting when they order online (though all bets are off regarding sizes, ha!)

  7. How many employees will be left unemployed? It’s always sad when a store that’s been around a long time closes down. I used to like to shop, but since I retired I haven’t enjoyed it as much. I guess I worry more about the money, and I have less places to wear anything. Just cleaned out the closets and found that I have a LOT of stuff I’d forgotten about. So it’s sort of like I went shopping all over again!

    • Locally, I’m not sure, but the parent company had 256 locations throughout 23 states, according to its website, so I imagine the loss will be felt. And it had been in business for more than 160 years, to boot!

      Dawn, I’m impressed with your closet cleaning. I, too, need to do that. I expect I’ll find lots of stuff I haven’t worn in years (and might never wear again), so I’ll need to haul stuff to the charities.

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