Thursday, December 9, 2004
Go ahead and laugh. Mock our pain. But Jan. 15, 2005, will be a sad and tragic day for couture on the Monterey Peninsula—and beyond. Next month, Saks Fifth Avenue in Carmel will shut its doors for good.
Sure, libraries and recreation centers have been scaling back their hours of operations, and even closing up shop for good in Salinas. But…et tu, Saks? And the closest Saks store will now be in—gasp—San Francisco.
This is our clean, well-lit place (but not so well-lit as to expose sags or bags in the dressing rooms). It’s warm and comforting and, really, there’s no ailment that good, hard retail therapy can’t cure.
Bad day at work? Sounds like a new pair of Juicy cashmere sweats.
Boyfriend/husband troubles? Hot little BCBG chiffon tube top will make him beg for forgiveness.
Zits or wrinkles? Look no further than the cosmetic counters to smell, powder, cream and gloss your way to pure bliss.
But now, in a post-Saks era, whatever will we do? And for that matter, what will fashionistas in Fort Worth, Texas do?
Company spokespeople have announced that the company will close 11 stores in seven states, including the shop in Fort Worth, and, five locations in California: Carmel, La Jolla, Pasadena, Mission Viejo and Palos Verdes.
Saks Fifth Avenue CEO Fred Wilson says he feels our pain. He recently mailed faithful customers a note card—unfortunately it arrived after we all read the sad news in the Monterey County Herald.
In the letter Wilson sent, printed on thick, creamy card stock, he attempts to minimize the impact of losing the only full-service designer department store in the area.
“Please be assured that a great deal of consideration went into this difficult decision, and that we will do everything possible to facilitate your continued relationship with Saks Fifth Avenue,” he writes. “You are welcome to visit the Carmel-by-the-Sea store until its closing date of January 15, 2005, or you may choose to visit our San Francisco location. It is our goal to always offer you the level of convenience and personalized service you have come to expect from us, so that your transition to a different store will be seamless and as pleasant as possible.”
We wonder if that means Wilson will send a limo to drive us
to the San Francisco location. A stretch limo, that is, with
Veuve Clicquot on ice. And a new pair of Seven jeans, paired
with a Marc Jacobs bag and jacket to wear as we transition to
this different store. That might ease the pain, albeit
On Oct. 2, 2004, the black Saturday after the news fell, groups of loyal shoppers swarmed the contemporary department on the south end of Carmel Plaza.
An 18-year-old brunette in tight Seven jeans and a rabbit-fur trimmed suede jacket rushed the counter. Anticipating the imminent fashion drought, she whipped out her Saks card and began stockpiling items.
“It’s our fault. We should have shopped more,” she moaned, as the petite saleslady shook her head sadly.
“No, no,” the wide-eyed saleslady consoled. “We are actually one of the better-performing stores. It’s a corporate restructuring.”
“Isn’t there anything we can do?” asked the brunette, almost collapsing onto her pile of Juicy Wear.
“You can call this number, and make yourself heard,” the saleslady said kindly, scribbling a corporate phone number on the back of a card.
“I just can’t believe it,” the Seven girl said, turning to us in hopes of empathy.
“We know,” we muttered, before meeting her sad eyes, as the same bright thought raced through our hearts.
“Maybe there’s going to be a sale!”
No such luck.
“No, we’re just going to have the normal fall sales, then
move our things to other stores,” the saleslady explained
gently. “We’re going to stop ordering at the end of October. I
just feel so bad for all of our wonderful customers. I mean,
what are they going to do? Shop at Macy’s?”
Fast forward: a perfect sunny November afternoon, perfect for us to sneak out of the office to do more “research.”
But we forget all about working upon seeing the announcement posted on an elegant stand outside the cosmetics department: “Saks card users receive triple points, today only.”
Triple points. It’s all part of the most wonderful theory ever designed: the more we spend, the more we save. At the end of the year, if we were “good girls” and used our Saks card enough, we’ll be rewarded with money back. Well, not actual money, but credit to spend at Saks.
We think about how, with this store credit, we will finally be able to afford that leopard print shrug we always wanted. It’s made out of rabbit fur, which makes us a little sad. After all, we used to have pet bunnies. Oh well, we’ll just pretend it’s real leopard, not rabbit. We’re feeling better about that shrug already.
First stop: cosmetics.
Maybe it’s the perfect time to buy some Crème de la Mer face cream. Celebrities swear by the “nutrient-rich Miracle Broth.”
Lost in a fog of perfectly attentive service by Noriko, we stop thinking about the reporters’ notebooks in our handbags and the looming deadlines back at the office. Noriko is explaining that since it’s “triple points day” we are entitled to some extra free gifts to go with the Crème de la Mer. $195 for two ounces isn’t so bad really. We’re talking an investment in our faces, here. And it seems imprudent not to also snatch up the La Mer face serum ($175), and the eye balm ($120.)
Noriko wraps up the products carefully in tissue, then generously adds a lovely box filled with an assortment of large-sized samples.
We transition to the Clinique counter, with Noriko explaining how the Clinique “free” gift with purchase of a gold lamé makeup case filled with sample-sized products (mascara and lip gloss on one wand!) is “great for camping.”
“Camping?” we ask.
We can’t help it. We snicker a little too loudly. A gold lamé case full of mascara, lip gloss, foundation, perfume and wrinkle cream for camping?
Noriko looks slightly hurt.
“We don’t camp,” we say, pulling out our Saks card.
Cricket and Ruby are fashion journalists who write exclusively on shopping, drinking, and sex.