In Mourning for C-Mart….

See this chair? Got it at C-Mart...

See this chair? Got it at C-Mart...

I’ll be honest…I have wondered about what was going on at C-Mart for a while now, for years one of my all time favorite stores. I know people who furnished their entire (lovely) homes with great buys from C-Mart. So when the company was sold over a year ago, and their idea was to make it an online company, I just thought, “Huh?” I mean, C-Mart was a treasure trove of one of a kind things, remainders, leftovers…and since you probably didn’t have 100 of anything, maybe not even five, how could you possibly turn it into or keep up with an online service? It just didn’t make any sense to me, but I figured that they knew a lot more about business than I did, so I guessed it would work. As I read today in The Baltimore Sun, turns out, not so much. And what a loss.

These too....

These too....

Can I just share some of my favorite memories of C-Mart? And you can share yours. The biggie of all biggies had to be the buyout of the entire Saks Fifth Avenue in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. No one was supposed to know it was Saks, but everyone did. Keith Silberg, then the  owner of C-Mart(come back Keith)…told me it was the most amazing thing he had ever done, wandering through an entire store load of shiny, silky, leather-like-butter designer goods, and having to make a bid on the whole lot. He wanted it and badly…who wouldn’t ? He didn’t want to get outbid, but didn’t want to pay too much either.  And as he pointed out, C-Mart was one of the few places with the capacity to handle such a huge deal. And he got it.

OK, this too....

OK, this too....

Remember the handbag sale that year? Where they had to call the cops and close the store ’cause the ladies got a little out of hand ? It was at the height of the designer handbag mania….shelves and shelves of Isabella Fiore, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Prada, Longchamps and other high end bags…..it seriously made your heart beat faster just to look at their smooth leathery tasseled, buckled beauty….AND THEY WERE ALL 50 % OFF. Gulp. It was no wonder C-Mart had a near riot. In a kind of fever, I bought the bag you see at the left….it was a $1200 Marc Jacobs Venetia…kind of the “it bag” that year( I know, I know…such craziness)…and it feels rather embarassing saying I paid “only” $600 for it. My Mother looked at it and then at me and said with a touch of shock in her voice…”You paid 600 dollars for a purse?” I think it was in a tiny voice that I replied, “But it was half price…” Sigh. I never carry it and always refer to it as “that ridiculous handbag”. Live and learn, live and learn.

But that bag aside, I have found so many bargains and things I love at C-mart, its demise is horrifying to many people. I remember Dominica Davis, who now lives in NY and works for Fox (still miss you Dominica!), talking about the clothing sale from Saks at C-Mart. She described running around with a shopping cart and piling items in her cart “like I was at K-mart, only these were designer clothes, and even at half price you’re talking about thousands of dollars!” I know. It’s true. I was there too…it really was kind of a manic buying going on that day, and when the cash register told the tale at the end of the spree…there were  many faces that had a touch of the accident victim in shock. Ahhhh, good times, good times.

Hey, maybe someone with vision will swoop in and see that in tougher economic times, people really want a place like C-Mart. I don’t know what happened there…but it is still a viable entity. It was a classic…”See you at C-Mart”…is it really over? And why?

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9 Responses

  1. I hate it when stores that I usually drive to go online and disappear. Anyway, it seems that your taste is of the same quality as mine, and it looks like the J. Peterman Company is giving away a $5000 shopping spree. Thought you might want to check it out: http://jpeterman.com/sweepstakes/
    Hooray for shopping sprees!

  2. …”And why????”

    Why not

    People need jobs,…jobs that pay to fuel frivolous purchases.

    Lehman Brothers, AIG..why not C-MART.

    Most people have not purchased anything new in a long time, except for those FORTUNATE

  3. Unfortunately Joeb, the people who work at C-mart, many of whom have worked there for years, are losing their jobs…jobs they need too. And C-Mart is a far cry from Lehman Brothers….they simply sold things at a discount that people need and want…that’s the way our economy goes round….

  4. I remember C-Mart when it was in a dark and odd-smelling building near Main St. in Bel Air. It was like a wonderful treasure hunt to walk along the aisles full of one-of-a-kind clothing and items. Then they moved to Forest Hill and it was still odd-smelling but brighter and larger and it was still like a treasure hunt. One time I found a silver designer gown with an orange crayon-looking mark across the front. The original price tag on the gown was $485.00. I bought the gown (which fit like a glove) for $20.00 and took it to the dry cleaners thinking if they couldn’t get the mark out, I would cut the dress apart and use the material for pillows. They got the mark out for $7.00! I felt so gooood. I had a designer dress for $27.00! It didn’t matter that I didn’t have anything (like the Academy Awards) to wear it to – ever! C-Mart should have never moved to Joppa. It looked too much like a department store and smelled too good. They tried to sell lots of very expensive leather furniture that was in poor condition and the prices were too high to make any of the damaged items worth owning. The thrill of the treasure hunt was gone. The old store in Forest Hill is still vacant. They say you “can’t go back” but I wish someone would tiurn the pages, start the book over and begin again in Forest Hill…………………….

  5. Its a real shame that so many lives were affected by the mismanagement, greed and inexperience of the new owners. Cmart could have survived the economic downturn if not for those bozos.

  6. All good things must come to an end, Oh My So Sad! I’ve been a Cmart shopper since the beginning when it was a funky ‘head shop’ in ’74/’75 on Bond Street in Bel Air, stocked with pipes and crazy hippie stuff. Young Doug got his start selling Eagle Eye shirts to students @ UDel out of the trunk of his car back in the day – kudos to him! I’m wondering if it made national news — my daughter in Chicago sent me a quick txt in disbelief. Oh, how we’ll miss the funky handwritten ‘CU@Cmart’ ads and the anticipation of finding some REALLY great buys.

  7. I started going to C-Mart with my Mom when I was I little girl (1970’s). I have fond memories of C-Mart when it was located in Forest Hill. You never knew what you were going to find — in fact I bought my prom dress there for $15 when most of these types of dresses were selling for $150 or more.

    When C-Mart announced it was relocating to Joppatowne, I was thrilled. It meant the shop would be a mere mile from my home. Unfortunately, that’s when C-Mart “changed”.

    All of a sudden they were only selling high-end designer goods it seemed, especially in their furniture department. (If I couldn’t afford a $20,000 couch, chances are a 50% off sale wasn’t going to help!) The other issue I saw was that the style of furniture etc. began moving away from items everyday people wanted in their homes and turned into a flea-market of the odd. Chairs in lime-green with silver sparkles and bright orange tassels, china closets that were so enormous that you needed 15-foot plus ceilings to even contemplate their charm in your home.

    I am very saddened to see C-Mart close it’s doors, but I couldn’t imagine how they were staying open when they had moved so far away from what made them great in the first place.

    It would seem to me, especially in these tough economic times, bringing back the old C-Mart philosophy of “quality goods at close-out prices” and ditching the “high-end goods you still can’t afford even if you like the bizarre and garish” would still be a solid business plan at the current location.

  8. Donna,
    I’d be happy to carry that beautiful Marc Jacobs Venetia bag for you!

    Lori

  9. I’m a little late but I’d be happy to help you with that venetia too! =P

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