Remembering glitter and all things shiny
Claire’s is going bankrupt. I think I know why.
The mall jewelry chain has filed for Chapter 11 protection, hoping to avoid huge debts that are weighing down its ability to thrive in the dog-eat-dog world of retail.
I suspected Claire’s decline started around May four years ago. Sure enough, I found the company has been losing about $200 million in revenue a year since 2014.
It’s easy for me to see what happened – Lillian, Amy, and Charley Ann, especially Charley Ann, have grown up.
My Lillian was one of thousands, yea millions, of little girls who had their ears pierced at Claire’s. Back then our outlet mall (can we still call it a mall?) had a Claire’s store and, oh, the many trips we made to purchase bags full of the cheap trinkets marketed there.
Claire’s is a big deal. They have 7,500 locations in 45 countries (5,300 are in the United States) and it’s estimated that 99 percent of every retail mall in America has a Claire’s. Some 100 million ears worldwide have been pierced at Claire’s.
Their hook, if I remember correctly, is free piercing with an earring purchase.
I well remember our Claire’s days. Some trips were for specific items – something new Amy or Charley Ann, or any one of her North Delta classmates, had found. But, often it was just shopping trips to see what different shimmering piece of worthless metal (dad’s opinion) could be found.
Once that group of girls graduated and went off to conquer the world (or at least the northern half of Mississippi), poor Claire’s began its downward spiral. These girls, mind you, didn’t just “want” the newest faux jewelry, they simply “had to have it.”
And because she was an only child for a while, and she has an indulgent daddy, Lillian owned one of every shiny, sparkling, glitter-coated pieces of rubbish Claire’s had to offer. She had two of some things.
There were bracelets, rings, necklaces, purses, barrettes, and those awful tubes of lotion, gels, glosses, and what-not, each covered in tiny flakes of glitter that ended up all over the house and usually her, too.
Get the girls together and it was almost unbearable. But, the promise of a trip to Claire’s was usually enough to make those girls settle down and be quiet (even Amy!) for at least a few minutes.
I was a little sad reading the headline on the Claire’s bankruptcy story, fearing that like Toys R Us (thank goodness there wasn’t one of those here), Claire’s stores would disappear from our country’s retail map.
Not so. Seems Claire’s intends to keep all the stores open, and hopefully can retain all 17,000 employees. The company is just taking this opportunity to legally rid itself of cumbersome debt piled on by outside investors a decade ago. Those guys split with the money, leaving the individual retailers to pay the bill.
Claire’s could see the writing on the wall (no doubt in glitter) and took the chance to clean up its books before store closures became necessary.
I haven’t been to a Claire’s store in years, and had almost forgotten about those heady days of young parenting and accompanying giggling girls to their favorite mall destination.
When I saw Claire’s in the news this week, it brought back a flood of memories. I miss those days – a simple time when $5 of costume jewelry and a Happy Meal for The Princess made me the best dad in the world.
Now, Lillian, Amy, Charley Ann, and a host of their compatriots are about to enter the real adult world, and I’m confident they will do just fine.
Lillian will graduate at University of Mississippi’s Medical Center with a dental hygienist degree next month, and Amy has done well at Ole Miss, recently being accepted into speech pathology graduate school. Charley Ann has done equally well in her studies, and will also be a top contender at the Miss Mississippi pageant in Vicksburg this summer.
I’m very proud of these young ladies, and all their classmates. Where life will take them, who knows? They will be just fine, though, especially if there is a Claire’s nearby.
I’m sure Lawyer and Mrs. Walker, and Margaret and Chuck feel the same.
And, no, that’s not a tear on my cheek. I just have something in my eye. Probably glitter.