Goodbye, Coldwater Creek

Posted on May 12, 2014


Coldwater Creek used to be a favorite. Then it wasn’t. Now it’s bankrupt.

Alas, Coldwater Creek was, for a time, one of the few retailers that Lila could depend on for consistent petite sizing… but that all changed, and now they are in the final throes of bankruptcy.

Well, it couldn’t last. Over the past several years, the sizing was not so consistent any more. Sleeves were frequently too tight, blouses were too tight across the back or chest, too loose at the waist. One had the impression that perhaps the designers had stick-armed, cone- shaped watermelon people in mind.

Then the sizes mysteriously bloated. I went from wearing a Petite Small to a Petite Extra Small, or even an Extra-Extra Small, and then the day came that one of these XXS garments was absolutely swimming on me. No, I had not lost weight. The clothes were actually getting bigger and bigger.

Once in a while, the company would send a survey around to its customers. I gave them my impressions – what I didn’t like, what I liked. It seemed that none of my suggestions ever made the cut. Quite to the contrary, the Coldwater Creek offerings soon overflowed with long, drapey garments worthy of Bea Arthur, but that would never work for me, not even in a petite size. And certainly not in the new XXS sizes that were more like a Size 10 on a good day. Well, I’m sure it was a bit of an ego boost to someone out there.

Then the petite sizes – the only thing I ever really valued Coldwater Creek for – disappeared from the stores. I’m sure it seemed more cost-effective to the company, but I suspect that it was a critical long-term mistake. My visits to the stores became less frequent, because there was nothing that I could try on. My visits to the online site became less frequent, because I resent having to pay for shipping just to try something on, especially when the sizing has gotten so strange and inconsistent. I will bet I am not alone in that; I suspect their business was dropping off because a lot of formerly satisfied customers were getting as exasperated as I was.

A couple of weeks ago, Coldwater announced its bankruptcy, and now it is selling off its inventory. One last chance for a good deal, perhaps? Even with the prospects of deep discounts, I’m not seeing anything to tempt me.

Multiply my reaction across their customer base, and I’m pretty sure this is why they are going out of business.