How do we know that economic situation is not getting better? When someone from friends or family is losing a job…, when you have to move to a smaller house/apartment…or when your favorite store is out of business. (I am not talking about Barnes & Noble, though they go through a hard time as well).
Well, I recently learnt that my favorite store is going out of business. It was a big surprise, an unpleasant one. Did I forget to mention that I love to shop?-shocking-isn’t? I am one of those who shops when stressed instead of eating huge amounts of chocolates. I do not like chocolate, but I love to shop. It is more expensive, but probably a healthier habit.
Loehmann’s is my good old friend. Our relationships started unexpectedly and magically like any long lasting relationship. When I came to the US to get my MPH at Emory, I rented an apartment in Decatur. I also couldn’t drive, and the only place I could walk to was a little shopping plaza right in front of my apartment complex. That plaza became my little universe: several small cafes (one of which was very good bakery looking Frenchy – I loved it), a Mexican restaurant, shoe repair place…and Loehmann’s. I had never heard of it, never shopped there, never planned to. At first I didn’t even understood it was a store. But it happened that it was the only clothing store I could reach by foot…and I started to shop there. Long story short, I fell in love and I got addicted to it. (Loehmann’s is a retail chain selling off-price designer clothing in the United States. The first store was opened in 1921, in Brooklyn, New York. At its peak in 1999, the company had approximately 100 stores in 17 states)
Women get addicted to certain stores for several reasons. The most common scenario: you came to the store first time probably without any agenda, then you saw something you really liked, you bought it and it became a popular item in your wardrobe. A good feeling towards the store you bought the THING nests somewhere in your memory …until next time. And (here is an important part) If you happened to come at the same store a second time and AGAIN!!! find and buy something which you love, the good feeling became stronger and you unconsciously move this store to your preference table.
That was probably what happened to me. I don’t remember if I bought something at first or second visit, but in my case-I had no choice. It wasn’t only because that was the only store I can reach by feet. I doubt that Walmart would keep me the same level occupied for a year,even if it would be located in my backyard. There is a sign on Loehmann’s shopping bag: FIND IT! LOVE IT! BUY IT FOR LESS! I did all of this … that “Buy it for less” cost me a lot and a gold memberships I have in a year was a proof of that. It is a discount designer store-and yes-you have to spend time to find something unique for you such as cute Armani pants for the price of Old Navy, but I wasn’t in a hurry (remember?? I love to shop). I may never have discovered it or may have discovered it much later, but it was meant to be. I shopped there alone, I shopped there with my girlfriends, and no matter if I buy something or not (though it was quite rare I didn’t), we stop at coffee and wonderful Frenchy cakes in café in a great mood. It felt so nice, so European . Loehmann’s it not just a store, it’s a culture, its memories, it’s an amazing satisfaction feeling to find something you never even knew you need. Well, I have to admit that not all my girlfriends like Loehmann’s, of course. Some thought it was still expensive, some didn’t like to spend time to find right thing and right size, some simply didn’t like the special Loehmann’s quirky style. I did like it all. I liked their fitting rooms completely covered in mirrors like you are in ballet class, their cute gay salesmen, always well dressed, funny and custom-oriented, bags and evening dresses collections.
When next year I moved to another apartment complex closer to my University (BTW, I study a lot, not just shop), I was missing my Loehmann’s and always tried to find any opportunity to make my husband (boyfriend at that time) drive me there. I used lame excuses like I miss my old apartment complex and I want to see the lake, then I tried to convince him, that Frenchy bakery is something we have to have every two weeks…So, all these excuses worked just a few times, but my daughter and him knew if I go into Loehmann’s it would be hard to get me out of there. For that reason they both hated that store and refused to go.
After our 8 years in Moscow I didn’t forget about Loehmann’s (and Loehmann’s didn’t forget me and kept sending adds to my husband’s parents address, where he received mail) and I came to visit it right away upon our return. I was so glad to see my old lost friend…
A week ago, my husband told me he read that the store is going out of business…On Saturday we went there… I tried to ignore ”Out of Business sale” signs. I thought it was only for Atlanta locations, and I still could shop in New York, BUT it happened to be everywhere. They were in business for 90 (!!! )Years… they survived Second World War, great depression, multiple smaller recessions……and they are out of business now. I checked google and found several crying articles about Loehmann’s in several respectful magazines and blogs…I realized it is not just a store, it’s culture, it’s memories, it’s something hard to describe.
When we were driving back, my husband looked at my sad face: ” Sweetie-it’s just a store!”… There are many others you like. Macy’s, TJMAx, …
“It’s not just a store”-I told him,- Imagine your favorite football team is out of business. How would you feel about it? He kept silence for a few minutes. “Oh…I didn’t know it’s that bad”,- he said finally without any sarcasm… “We’ll come there again one more time to say good bye-OK?”