Goodbye Charlotte Russe

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have heard that Charlotte Russe, the retail store aimed at women in their teens and twenties, has unfortunately kicked the bucket.  It was announced on Wednesday, March 6th that the company was going to liquidate and shut down all of its 512 stores across the nation. They filed for bankruptcy protection in early February and only shut down 94 stores, but the rest will follow within the next two months.  

    As someone who worked as a sales associate at Charlotte Russe, saying I am heartbroken is an understatement.  I figured it would only be fair to write this piece in honor of the store I called my home for the past two years. Besides giving me what has to be the biggest closet transformation known to man (that 40% off discount definitely didn’t hurt), the store gave me so much more.  It gave me experiences I’ll never forget and has taught me an unimaginable amount of lessons.

    I originally came to Charlotte Russe having no retail experience whatsoever.  The only job I had was at a theater scanning tickets and ushering people to their seats, so fitting rooms and denim tables were far out of my league.  But I had recently been through my very first breakup and needed a distraction, so Charlotte was the perfect fit. During a time when I thought I lost so much, I don’t think I realized just how much I was going to gain from that store.

    The women I worked with during my time at Charlotte Russe were inspiring.  They all came from different backgrounds and each had their own story to tell.  Some had children while others were only in high school or in college like me, but all of them had an impact on my life.  They made me feel welcome in a setting where I felt inexperienced and never once made me feel inferior to them.  As I grew and learned the ins and outs of the store and the company, I looked at my coworkers as family. I loved being able to laugh with them or vent about school assignments that were stressing me out.  Everyone had this unspoken understanding between each other, which I think was in part because of the company we worked for.

    Charlotte Russe’s motto was and always had been, “Yes I can.”  From day one, it was instilled in me to do whatever I could to make our Charlotte girls happy.  Whether it was helping someone sift through clearance for that one fuzzy cardigan they loved in a size medium, calling another store in the area to check for a shoe size that our location didn’t have or even just ringing someone up at the register, we were always encouraged to up our customer service game.  The consideration for our customers translated pretty seamlessly into the consideration we had for our fellow coworkers.

I’m going to miss working at Charlotte Russe.  I’ll miss putting those pesky go backs away after people tried them on.  I’ll miss memorizing the endless loop of the same songs that filled the silence.  I’ll miss the rush and anticipation of Black Friday and the prep meeting we had before the holiday season kicked off.  I’ll miss being surrounded by such an empowering group of women. Most of all, I’ll just miss being a Charlotte girl. Although come to think of it, I think I’ll still always be one.