Ask any suburban Generation Xer who grew up roaming the mall during the 1980s and 1990s where they first had their ears pierced. Without fail, every time they’ll either say that they never had their ears pierced, or they went to Claire’s boutique.
Founded in Hoffman Estates, Illinois in 1961, the jewelry retailer began piercing ears in 1978. That’s when teenagers began flocking to their local Claire’s for a quick jolt in the ear with a non-lethal gun, operated by an unstable teenager in a unsterile environment. If this was you, congratulations: Your friends probably thought you were super cool, and yours were one (or two) of over 100 million ears that the Claire’s boutique staff has mutilated over the last forty years.
For four decades, Claire’s has sold shitty jewelry to tweens and pierced more ears than GWAR has. As recently as 2012, nearly 95 percent of all U.S. shopping malls housed a Claire’s. However, just like an earlobe, if you ignore a huge chain for too long, it’ll close up.
Claire’s is the latest retail giant to have collapsed underneath its own pile of crippling debt (and, theoretically, cubic zirconia). The company has just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and is currently restructuring with the intent of removing one of the zeroes from its $2.1 million red stain.
There’s actually some good news, however… especially if you still need to get your helix done. Claire’s — which also happens to be your one-stop-shop for Best Friends trinkets — will keep as many stores open as it can for as long as it can in an effort to avoid liquidation0.
Claire’s is hoping to avoid the same fate of its once-ubiquitous brick-and-morter brethren — Waldenbooks, ToysЯus, The Nature Company, Gadzooks, The Sharper Image, and RadioShack, to name several — all of which have either gone completely online or are completely gone.
Along with hoping that this bankruptcy filing will substantially reduce the company’s financial burden, Claire’s CEO Ron Marshall said that the organization hopes to “complete this process as a healthier, more profitable company.”
Before you wonder how many barrettes and scrunchies Claire’s needs to sell to become solvent again, let’s remember that much like prostitution, piercing ears is a trade that can never full be replaced in the digital, non-Westworld landscape. Marshall considers its ear-piercing service to be Amazon-Proof, because you can’t pierce your ears online… yet.