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In Memory of Claire’s

My older sister and I are Irish twins, which means that, technically, for a total of four days, we’re the same age. Growing up so close in age often meant shared birthday parties and events. While it was annoying to have to share the limelight with a sibling on a day that’s supposed to be exclusively for you, it also created some of my fondest memories.

In 2005, I was entering double-digits, and we were on a mission to get our ears pierced at the holy grail of tween liberation: Claire’s.  

Claire’s, the first store so many Millennial (and maybe even some Gen-Z) girls remember spending their babysitting money on a cell phone charm for their bright pink Razr phone, is sadly filing for bankruptcy, according to Bloomberg. In the 90s, Claire’s had over 1,000 stores, and by 2006 it had over 3,000. This mall mainstay was hard to miss, and it could be found in just about every mall throughout the United States. So for many young women, imagining a mall without one is kind of like a mall without a food court. 

Being in a Claire’s was an experience. It was trying to find the perfect friendship bracelet the week before the actual birthday party and picking out that perfect shade of bright red lipstick to wear on your first day of middle school. It was a place for growing up, while simultaneously staying young.

At our run-down local mall across from an Auntie Anne’s pretzel booth stood the bright pink and purple storefront. I remember walking in, my palms already sweaty from my decision, with a feeling of excitement taking over because I was finally going to it. My mom filled out the paperwork, and I impatiently sat in the long-legged chair by the floor-to-ceiling windows, a little embarrassed that passersby were about to see me cry. While cutting off my mom’s circulation and in a 1, 2 ,3, hole punch, it was done. Two silver balls glistened around very sore earlobes, but I was happy, and to this day remains one of my favorite shared birthdays with my sister. 

And it wasn’t just that moment. Claire’s gave me a sense of belonging on Friday nights with friends. As opposed to stores like Hollister, American Eagle, the Limited Too and Justice, where the clothing is catered to smaller-size girls, in Claire’s my rounder body had options and the choice to over-accessorize.  

While Claire’s hasn’t mentioned if they’ll close their doors completely, it’s hard not to reminisce on all the memories the store has given me. But if they do, at least I’ll always have my ears pierced.

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