Saturday, April 12, 2014

RIP Coldwater Creek

I was sorry but not surprised to read that Coldwater Creek is closing their stores. I used to shop there often. Not that I could afford most of their clothes, but they had lovely, nice quality items that were appropriate for women over the age of 25. I would go in and have a look, then wait patiently for a sale, where I would happily buy a few of my favorites at a discounted price. I still wear some of those clothes, survivors of a major wardrobe purge when we downsized.

At one time, going to Coldwater Creek was fun. The salespeople were mature, helpful and not pushy. The clothes were displayed with accessories, which is very helpful for those of us who need a visual. They wrapped my purchases in tissue and carefully packed into them into a nice brown paper tote.

So what happened? Going only by my own experience, I believe the death knell for Coldwater Creek began when they started doing two things: they cut back on larger sizes (a foolish move when much of your clientele is “older”) and they cut back on quality. How well I remember one big sale they had, where I came home with four pretty t-shirts. Three of the four began shrinking lengthwise and stretching crosswise after the first washing. This was the problem I’d seen with lower-priced clothes, but never before at Coldwater Creek.

After that, I was more cautious when I shopped at Coldwater Creek. I could no longer assume that whatever I bought there would hold up. They became like every other store, where it was hard work to find something stylish and age-appropriate that wouldn’t shrink or fall apart in the laundry.

For me, the last straw occurred after they began sending me coupons for $25 off anything. By that time, I had to drive some distance to the nearest Coldwater Creek, but did so in hopes of finding something nice in my price range. But I looked through the entire store and could not find a single item I liked. In some cases, the items were cheaply made. In others, there were plenty of size 6’s but nothing over size 12. I used one coupon to get a cheap necklace for almost free, but decided it was too chintzy-looking to wear. After that, I just threw away the coupons whenever they showed up in the mail.

What a shame! For many years, Coldwater Creek held out against the despicable trend of selling cheap trampy clothes that so many other merchants converted to several years ago. But once they joined the crowd, they joined the race to the bottom. No wonder we now see Goodwill stores popping up all over the place; they seem to be the only place where you can find well-made clothing at affordable prices.

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