Below is an article I wrote a year and a half ago (March 25, 2015) on the crumbling foundations of teen retailers, with a focus on Aeropostale. This past week as I visited four malls in Houston, TX I felt repercussions of their struggles. Although in reality only a little over a quarter of their locations are closing based solely on lack in profit, it felt as if the entire chain was biting the dust as each and every location I saw donned the signs seen in this picture.
Investors have lost hope in the recovery of teen fashion retailer Aeropostale “after 10 consecutive quarters of negative same-store sales.” -Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger. I look back at the week I had my daughter and I found my maternity pants slipping but my pre-preggo jeans too tight so our first outing was to the mall to purchase a fitting pair of jeans. Aeropostale has always been my go to in the jean department as they are affordable and simple in design. When I arrived though I found the entire wall of jeans stocked to the brim of only sizes 0 and 00. Now by no means am I large woman, but how many 00’s are there in the world that, that is the only size you are pushing? I turned to talk to an associate but the one standing not two feet from earshot of my complaints was flirting and kissing her boyfriend, and the two behind the register were consumed in gossip. I was beyond annoyed and swore I would write a letter to corporate, this was a high traffic and high grossing mall after all, and I was not the only customer with concerns in the store at that time.
The letter was never written. The idea was lost on me after a month or two. Some may consider me high maintenance as a customer, but there are reasons for my beliefs. My mother was also a district manager, and when I would come home in high school, feeling customer service fell short she would say, “complain to corporate.” I would shrink at the thought, I’d hate for someone to be written up, or worse lose their job over something I said, who am I? “If you were the owner of that store, would you want to know if your customers were mistreated? Wouldn’t you want to know why your numbers are slipping?”
To be honest after the jean debacle I never returned to an Aeropostale, and instead seek conservative affordable Jeans elsewhere, at shops like Old Navy. But as I read about their downfall I begin to feel guilty, having been in the hot seat of those managers and DM’s. Your numbers are crashing in a store and you have no idea why, and then it becomes an epidemic. Where are we falling short day to day? What are we lacking in our training? I could have brought to a DM’s attention the stock levels and the lack in customer service so that they could jump into damage control. They could have had a starting point.
Could I have saved the entire company? Of course not, but I know that I am not alone in staying silent. I know there have been other people like me out there who thought, something needs to be done about this, but never moved forward to offer their thoughts or feedback.
So I ask you, do you have any complaints you have not gotten around to voicing?
Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/