C-mart…. do-it-yourself version??
October 22, 2008

C-Mart...You bring it and you cart it away?

C-Mart...You bring it and you cart it away?

It caught my eye, yes it did this morning, as I was reading The Baltimore Sun,  that sweet familiar handwritten notice.  Only one place has ads that look like that and smells of….ooohhh, bargains. C-mart!! Kind of.

This is a do-it-yourself  kind of C-Mart….it’s a flea market, ok? I  can rent space and sell all the things I bought at C-Mart that perhaps I shouldn’t have ( the Marc Jacobs Venetia handbag comes to mind). They’re calling it The Big Tarp, and it will be not at the latest C-mart location but at the old Forest Hill one….the one I always got lost trying to get to. Anyway, someone…I’m assuming the original owners of C-Mart as they still own this property….is opening up and is renting table space now…75 cents a square foot. Not bad  I guess.

And here’s the great thing about it it….. in a down economy, when people are hurting, this place will provide a place not just for people to spend money, but also a place to MAKE SOME MONEY…..that can’t be anything but providential.  The Big Tarp will be open every Saturday and Sunday. So, there it is. No, C-Mart isn’t returning, but I’m keeping the door open and the welcome light on. See you there!

Laments and memories of bargains at C-Mart…..
October 8, 2008



Tears all around today over the demise of C-Mart. I thought you’d enjoy some readers’ favorite memories and thoughts on the situation….This is from Debbie:

Donna, I loved your C Mart eulogy. One day, my husband Howard was shopping at C Mart and as a joke brought me home a paperweight for my office which says “Because I Said So.” I immediately recognized the Pottery Barn box (I’m not sure he had ever heard of Pottery Barn!), and after grilling Howard, discovered that they had tons of Pottery Barn merchandise. As was the case with the designer bags and clothing, they obtained the merchandise after Hurricane Katrina. So we went back, and I was very excited to discover they did indeed have tons of great stuff — dishes, telephones, clocks, linens, hardware, lamps, bathroom containers, and on and on. Some of the dishes they had were the same ones as I was using, so I bought every serving piece, bowl, tray, etc. that goes with the set. I am not the most patient of people, but I did brave the long lines to buy my Pottery Barn treasures at half price. And they brought out new stuff for weeks — so I think we went back 3 or 4 times and kept finding more great stuff. What fun — we will definitely miss C Mart.As I’m writing this email, it has become clear to me that a Congressional bail-out of C Mart is in order.”

This from Susan in Forest Hill:

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 turn the pages, start the book over and begin again in Forest Hill.”

This from Jerry…

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.”

From Jan:

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.”

This from Kelly:

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.

This email I got today from Lisa, who has no idea why it fits in this blog!

This message is for Donna Hamilton:I love that watch she wears on the air and was wondering what brand it is and where could I get one! Thanks!”

Well Lisa, it is a Michele watch, and they sell them at Nordstrum’s, jewelry stores, online, and of course, at Saks. Where did I get mine? Half off at where else…C-Mart! When I saw it online during their big Saks buyout, I dispatched my husband there with a detailed description and strict instructions to brave the lines and buy it for me for Christmas. He did, and I still love it. Sniff.

This is from Lori:

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

Lori, here’s an idea….maybe I should rent it out and give the proceeds to charity!