Despite the title of this post, I’m devoting this post less to fashion and more to catching up on a couple of comings and goings (literally) at the mall a mile from where I live (West Towne Mall, for the record). Well, it’s not so much comings as it is comings, as it involves two formerly-significant clothing stores that have fallen on hard times as brick-and-mortar entities and have left the mall, and two stories that I’ve been meaning to bring up on here.
Let’s begin with Aéropostale. If you recall this post from last October, I mentioned that Aéropostale was in the process of closing many of its stores as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. And though it wasn’t part of that early list of closures, the Aéropostale at West Towne turned out to later be among them. It was a weird sight strolling past the mall during the last holiday shopping season and seeing not only signs saying “Store Closing!” and Entire Store 50-70% off!” but also “New Arrivals!” Oh, and a “now hiring seasonal help” sign as well.
Seeing such a contradiction of terms made me ponder, gee, is Aéropostale really closing after all? Well, on January 1, it came true: Aéropostale really did close after all.
Yeah, all that was left was naked mannequins, empty shelves, and the key just inside the gate accompanied by a note confirming it as such. I stopped by West Towne the other day and the Aéropostale was all boarded up (empty store fronts are not a pretty sight). But a sign placed in front of the boards indicated a new store was to be coming soon (its name escapes me at the moment). At least there is another Aéropostale in town (for now, anyway) located on the other side of town at East Towne Mall. I don’t get to the east side of Madison too often, but I’ll have to mosey over there just to make sure there isn’t any “everything must go” signs out front. But at least Aéropostale is still in existence online, where everything seems much more convenient.
While we all knew Aéropostale was hitting the highway back in December, I didn’t realize another clothing store in West Towne was about to do the same.
That was how the West Towne location of The Limited looked on Christmas Eve. The Limited had a great background story, which can be found here: It was founded in the early 1960s by the son of a Russian emigrant and her husband (who owned their own clothing store). It specialized in clothing for younger, “strong, confident women.” Their family had a presence in the chain’s executive ranks for many years. And it was part of a clothing empire that would acquire or spawn several other clothing chains (Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Express, Justice, even Bath & Body Works).
Those stores have been successful in their own right, and are still around in one way or another. The Limited, however, is not. As the above tweet suggests, The Limited began winding things down at the end of 2016, laying off employees and selling the remaining stock at all of its stores.
And while The Limited had hoped to become an online-only store, it would instead suspend operations in mid-January and, just as Aéropostale had done, file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. No more online sales through its website (for the time being, anyway). And no more brick-and-mortar presence.
I must confess that I didn’t venture into The Limited too often. The store seemed to have an air of class and sheer elegance, which in my mind equated to high prices, which would equate into a big dent into my bank account. And to my everlasting guilt, I had wished I had ventured there a little more often… because, oh, what lovely clothes they had, and what a relaxing atmosphere they projected.
At the West Towne Mall location at least, The Limited exited with a lot of class. Do you see something affixed to the gates in that above tweet? Well, it’s shown below in closeup:
Yep, a note of gratitude and thanks, signed by the remaining members of the “West Towne Limited Team.” No coldly written note from the corporate office. No cookie-cutter “this store is now closed” sign. And unlike the former Aéropostale location, no white boards put up by mall management to cover up empty store space (more on that in a second). Reading that note made me feel a little more ashamed that I didn’t venture into The Limited often. For if I had, and if the staff happened to be sympathetic towards a little ol’ crosssdresser like me, who knows how they would have styled my outfits? And who knows how absolutely stylish I would be right now? Here’s hoping Becky, Amy, and Jessica, if they’re not already, are styling the wardrobes of other lucky women at some other locale, giving them a little bit of that “unlimited life.”
Oh, about the former Limited space… said space already has a new occupant. And, no, it isn’t another clothing store. Rather, it’s the (temporary?) home of an artist and her paintings. It’s very fitting, really: The former home of a very swank and sophisticated women’s clothing store whose wares bordered on works of art is now the home of actual works of art.