Say it isn’t so. News broke earlier this week that made me sadder than the announcement of Harry & Meghan’s break from the royal family. Home decor retailer Pier 1 Imports announced it is closing 450 of its stores, including it turns out, the two locations nearest to me. Those ominous, giant “Storewide Sale” signs hang in the windows.
The Fort Worth-based Pier 1 will reportedly keep a few stores scattered throughout the Midwest and maintain its online store, but if recent announcements from now-defunct retailers are any indication—Payless Shoes, Toys R Us—it’s the beginning of the end for Pier 1. It’s also rumored that the company is planning to file for bankruptcy.
It’s sad, but not shocking. I have a long-time, on-again, off-again relationship with Pier 1. Their stuff has graced my home since my first little apartment in the mid-1990s, with its oversized papason chair that occupied almost half the living room. I long since got rid of it, but at any given time since, there has always been something from Pier 1 in my house: table, plant stand, fruit bowl, lamp, wicker patio furniture.
Even if they remain as an online-only store, it won't be the same.
No matter what kind of mood I’m in, entering a Pier 1 Imports store is a tonic. It’s a sensory experience, a fantasy land of pleasantly overwhelming sights and smells. It's a Willy Wonka factory for grownups. You can leave reality behind.
No other store has ever made me desire things I wasn’t even looking for, don’t need, have absolutely no use for, or that have no practical use at all. Ooh, there’s a Buddha head! See that rustic terracotta jar. Ooh, there’s an abstract kind of sculpture thing. And the holiday displays were just over-the-top fun.
But I was part of the problem plaguing them and other specialty retailers. I’ve made quite a few purchases at Pier 1, but more often I would go in there and get decorating ideas, then go buy similar things at Target or Marshalls for a fraction of the price. Guilty as charged.
Once the Targets, Marshalls, Wal-Marts, Ross’s and Amazons started selling the things they sell, the handwriting was on the wall.
Not that everything at Pier 1 is cost-prohibitive. There were always the good “finds” and the discounted seasonal merchandise. But in the end, it’s not enough to keep a retail chain afloat in these cutthroat times.
It makes you wonder, how far behind can Bed Bath & Beyond be, or Kohls? The latter chain and J.C. Penney just posted disappointing holiday sales. BB&B is also stumbling.
Does anybody remember a chain called The Bombay Company? These kinds of stores are dinosaurs. But they were so much fun to shop in. We took them for granted while they were around.
Pier 1, please don’t go!