Friday, May 14, 2010

Downtown Eddie Bauer closes

Posted By on Fri, May 14, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Anyone walking near River Park Square this morning around 9:45 saw an odd sight. A box sitting on the sidewalk marked "hangers." And pulled up next to it on the street, a moving truck. And then a completely empty retail space right next to Restoration Hardware.

I was one such person. 

"Holy crap," I thought, as a stern older gentleman picked up the hanger box and tossed it into the trunk, "this space wasn't empty yesterday." Wheels and counterweights spinning in my brain. "Uh ... something ... must have closed."

But what? It took a solid minute of Matlock-type sleuthing but I was eventually able to figure it out. On the second story of the building was the outline of a sign that had been taken down. The outline read, "Eddie Bauer."

First thought: "Weird, they were still open?" 

Yes, Sarah Redgrave at the Eddie Bauer home office in Bellevue says. They actually closed May 9, but packed up last night. Why? "We don't talk about our reasons for [closing stores]," she said by phone, but "we open and close a small number of stores each year."

But this store had been around since the mid-90s at the latest, so this closing was more than a "we tried that spot and it didn't work out." 

Spokane used to be a three-Eddie Bauer town. Now all we have is an EB Outlet in the Valley. 

Either the brand lost its way (the company declared bankruptcy in 2003 and shut the downtown location, opening it up in 2004 at half the size) or fashion senses in Spokane have gravitated away from garish plaids and cargo shorts (even if it seems like we haven't).

Either way, it's clear: We don't cotton to Eddie Bauer 'round these parts no more.  

An interesting side note: Apparently the other location, at NorthTown, closed about a year and a half ago, also with zero fanfare and even less outcry.

Which brings to mind that famous Zen koan: If a formerly popular retailer closes in a mall and no one notices, do your fashion choices really change?

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About The Author

Luke Baumgarten

Luke Baumgarten is commentary contributor and former culture editor of the Inlander. He is a creative strategist at Seven2 and co-founder of Terrain.