Thursday, April 26, 2012

Catherine's store closing in Mankato MN

DH and I went to visit the grandkids in Faribault last weekend - took them swimming at the motel while my son and his fiancee were on a bike ride to Wisconsin. But before that, DH and I went to Mankato. I wanted to have the van detailed at a carwash there - they wash your vehicle, vacuum it out, wash the floor mats, wash the windows inside and out, clean the dashboard, and even put in your choice of scent (don't know what it costs now, used to cost $20 when I had it done 10 years ago). But it was raining and the place was closed. So we went to Long John Silver's for lunch (we don't have one near Sauk Centre) and then I went to Catherine's to check out the clearance racks (I used to hit those clearance racks all the time when I lived in Le Center and worked in Mankato). Imagine my surprise when I found out the store was closing! The saleslady said it was due to the economy - not as many people were buying clothes, what with the economy being as bad as it has been for the last few years. Well, I can understand that, what with DH losing his job that paid $15 an hour and having to take a job a WalMart that pays less than half that (and is only part-time, to boot). I'm thinking that one of the big reasons women can't afford to shop at Catherine's anymore, unless there's a sale, is that their tees are priced at $48 to $53 and tank tops are priced at $36 to $40. I'm sorry, I worked in a garment factory and I know what it costs to make a tee or a tank - and those costs don't justify the prices we're being charged for clothing. If I have to pay $48 for one shirt, exactly how many times am I going to be able to buy shirts in a year? If I'm not making at least $100K a year (or married to someone who's making that much), I might be able to afford one or two new shirts a year - and that's if I don't need new shoes, or new bras (and don't even get me started on how much bras cost that will support my rack of doom), or new slacks, or new underdrawers. Women who don't wear plus sizes can find all kinds of clothing at reasonable prices, but once you get above a size 12 or 14, forget it - be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for anything that looks halfway decent and will last more than 6 months (and be prepared to make it last for years because you'll be lucky if you can afford to replace it any sooner). If stores that cater to larger women want to stay in business in this economy, they're going to have to figure out a way to give us what we want at prices we can afford so we can buy more often. Lots of women buying one or two items once or twice a year is not going to keep a store open - you need to have lots of women being able to buy several items every couple of months if you want to keep your stores open (I know this because I researched opening a store catering to women my size about 25 years ago - things haven't changed in the years since then on how to keep your business open and thriving).