Coldwater Creek, you crazy place

By Mir
November 13, 2008

I have a confession to make. When I moved to Georgia, for the first time I saw a brick-and-mortar Coldwater Creek store. And I was thrilled, because I shop them only quite often and love their stuff.

And then I went in there.

And I’m pretty sure I was the only person in the entire store under the age of 70.

But! I’d shopped them online! I knew they had some really great staples, and good bargains, and… well, the store had none of those things. No bargains. Nothing I would consider wearing. Or giving as a gift. Or even admit to liking. It was very strange.

I don’t know why the online Coldwater Creek is so much cooler than my local store. And I’m also not sure how the local store stays in business, given that they seem to never have any sales. But that’s all fine. Confusing, but fine. I’ll continue shopping them online, scooping up great bargains in their outlet, and using things like coupon code AFL9012 for $30 off my $100+ purchase and free shipping.

But I have to tell you: The local store still creeps me out a little.


  1. This post made me LOL Mir! 🙂

  2. What I hate is when I am out and I see some older lady wearing soething I have. Then I turn to my fashion consultant 13 yr old daughter and say, ” Am I dressing too old or are they dressing too young?” Currently I have a similar wardrobe to my sons 3rd grade teacher. Every time I see something I own on her, I can’t wear it again!

  3. I don’t get it either. I used to think CC was pretty hip, and they have entertaining catalogs, but then I went into their store, and I know for sure I was the only person under 50. In fact, I was looking for a jacket and the saleslady showed me ones she called “young looking.” Unfortunately, I cannot bridge the divide anymore and now pretty much don’t shop online there either. J. Jill and Talbots seem to be creeping up in their target ages too. I’m in a total clothes no-woman’s land. Where is the Forever 37 store when I need it?

  4. I went in one with my M-I-L while she was visiting. She bought tons of stuff, there was nothing in there I’d even consider trying on. I’m going to go check out their website.

  5. I thought it was just me! I totally the Coldwater Creek catalogue and thought the store at my favorite Mall That Has It All was going to be my go-to shopping stop.

    The disparity between the catalogue and the store is boggling.

    (Also, Groovecatmom’s “Forever 37” is funny, ’cause it’s TRUE!)

  6. Oh, perish the thought that you guys have to actually be seen in a store with anyone over 50, or have to even deal with 50+ people. The horror. So what are your plans then, once you hit that most terrible age, are you going to limit your own selves to shopping at the Goodwill and at Wal-mart?? Sheesh.

    Those OLDER people I know are good value-shoppers. Coldwater Creek stuff is high quality and mostly classic “timeless” styles (I have several of their wool skirts, still gorgeous after 10 years). Thanks for the coupon tip Mir!

  7. Yep- the first time I saw a JJill catalog, I drooled! Then they opened up a store and I went in there and it was like 50-60yo women who do yoga all day or look like they’re going to go to yoga after dinner or they just got back from doing yoga or… well, you get the picture!

  8. I think the trick is to stay away from the whole set- the pants or the shirt may be okay, but put them together and you’re WAY wrong. And never, ever, buy a sweater or sweatshirt or jacket with animals on it.
    I’ve gotten several skirts there, and paired with something contemporary and simple, it’s pretty nice.
    Off to look!

  9. Yeah, but the great thing about the brick-and-mortar Coldwater Creek store is that you don’t have to pay shipping on returns when you scoop up all the bargains on one of their on-line sales and then have to return the ones that didn’t work. Or at least, that’s what I do.

    Similarly, I’m very grateful for Sears’s Lands’ End store, so that I can process returns in person. Including, the other day, two pairs of pants that had split seams, one of which I had bought in May and didn’t have the receipt for, but the clerk was able to call Lands’ End and give me the refund. Yay!

    I am *really bad* at mailing back on-line stuff I want to return.

  10. OMG!! So glad to hear that I’m not alone! I recently visited a brick & mortar CC store and was stunned by the prices and the rather high average age of their customers. I was especially horrified when my M-I-L told me that CC was her favorite store!! Needless to say, I stopped checking out their stuff on-line too. Besides, they haven’t offered one of those amazing 50%+ off deals in a very long time… This new deal is tempting though.

    I agree with the other posters here…there is certainly a lack of options for us moms in our 30s. I like Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft, but I usually need something that’s a bit more casual/comfortable but not frumpy. Any suggestions out there?!

  11. I was a secret shopper for CC and what you mentioned… I put in both of my reviews – I hate not having sale racks!! And online is so much cooler!

  12. I hear you Grace. I’m a 27 year old stay at home mom of two little ones, although I have an “old soul”, and can not find stuff to wear. Old navy stuff is mostly too young, and of cheap quality, Gap may have a couple of things, but in limited colors, so I can’t really stock up on shirts if I find one that I like, and the rest (Ann Taylor Loft, etc…)tends to be geared towards business casual. Any tips, Mir???

  13. Whatever, I want to find Groovecatmom’s Forever 37 store. That would be perfect. It would feature a lot of cute tops in prints to hide spills and no Momjeans. There would be no puffy sleeves or faux maternity looking tops. And CERTAINLY nothing with an animal on it or anything my great aunt would love.

  14. Similar to what Andrea says above, I think that J. Jill and Coldwater Creek have changed some of their inventory in the past few years. I used to like a lot of the stuff, and could make it work with what I had. The benefit of online with these two retailers is that it’s fairly quickly to dig through what won’t ever work for me and locate the few (and fewer and fewer) items that are appropriate for my lifestyle.

    I agree that beyond the narrow focus of Ann Taylor Loft and Liz Claiborne (which aren’t particularly gentle on the wallet), there isn’t much out there for mid-career mothers in their 30s (who have vanishingly limited time to shop). I have had some luck recently with some good deals over at Sierra Trading post – once again, the key is to be able to shop online and quickly filter out those apparel items that have no relevance.

  15. Jennifer, I don’t think anyone was casting aspersions on the 50+ set, merely noting that there’s a difference between “timeless style” and “retirement home chic.” 😉 Look, I said I like Coldwater Creek and own some of their stuff. You’re right, the quality is awesome. But why does my local CC seem to only carry muumuus and polyester pantsuits??

    As for the what-can-casual-30-somethings-wear question, I agree that it’s become harder and harder to find appropriate options. I tend to stick to TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross for my brick-and-mortar store options—they carry a pretty good assortment of brands/styles, plus the prices are right. Online, I guess I still have a bit of latent preppy in me—I like Lands’ End, Eddie Bauer, and LL Bean. Target is carrying some cute stuff now, too.

    But the real secret is that I buy pretty shoes and hope no one notices my clothes. Shhhhhh!

  16. Thrift stores girls…Takes some time, but thrifing is like a treasure hunt and I always find high quality for low prices.

  17. Oh! I thought it was just the one near me, here in Virginia. I had gone in to return some items I purchased online and figured I’d find a couple things to exchange. Nope. Not a thing on sale or marked down (I’m not going to spend $40 on a t-shirt!) And there was a group of very nice 70-something ladies having a lovely time putting together outfits with scarves and belts, and modeling for their friends – I half expected to see a tea service and maybe bridge being played. The outlet mall near me is better, but its stuffed to the gills with clothes and its hard to move around without knocking things off the racks. But I have found some fabulous deals there…

  18. I’ve been wondering why you talk about that store much so much here. It’s kind of like walking into the Sag Harbor section of Macy’s. I’ve never gone in the store either–I’ll have to check out the online goods. Thanks for this post. 🙂

  19. I live near the granddaddy of Coldwater Creek outlets now(the home location in WV) and I look forward to visiting it soon…though maybe I’ll just stick to the online store instead. 🙂

    I went into the CC store at the Mall of Georgia and the only thing that crossed my mind was…WTH?

    BTW I recently “discovered” Christopher & Banks for some dressier casual stuff…brought to it by MIL (yes, I know, ugh) but they do have some nice pants and sweaters and lots and lots of in-store and on-line sales. I got an email coupon for 40% off in-store, including sales and clearance. Woo-hoo!

  20. This is so funny, to find out it is so widespread! I loved loved loved the CC mailers, and was so excited to see one move into the local shopping center. I went it and was horrified to find nothing even remotely interesting and everything so expensive! I have had a hard time wondering if it is just me or what. I will definitely stick to the online shopping.

  21. You know, I am 56 and I love to shop them online, but yeah, I have been in their stores and 1. could not afford anything in there, and 2. couldn’t find anything I liked. I found that to be strange, too. But, whenever I need a new bathing suit, I can always find one online at Coldwater Creek.

  22. How funny. I’ve also had the SAME experience. Online their stuff looks so fun and I have some of the accessories that I love but, yes, the last time I went to there brick store it was with my mom and grandmother…

  23. They should replace all CC stores with Groovecatmom’s Forever 37! (Why hasn’t any business figured out how to cater to us?!)

  24. Even some of the stuff in the catalog can be a little scary!

  25. 1) Here’s the thing: there are two kinds of CC stores: the regular, full-price ones, and the Outlet ones, which have great deals. Here in the northeast, where you used to live, Mir, there’s a CC outlet store in Kittery, ME, and probably in other outlet havens like North Conway, etc. I’ve never been in a full-price CC store, probably because they would be loaded down with stuff from the catalogue, some of which is indeed scary. I only shop CC online or in the outlets.
    2) I’m with Jennifer. And I think aspersions have been cast here. Not all grandmothers dress in matching outfits complete with scarf, and not all 20-30-40 somethings dress with style and grace. Ladies, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to be our age and look as good as most of my friends and I do. With style and grace. And what, exactly, is wrong with yoga?

  26. I’m not a big fan of CC, but I have to pipe in and say that my sixty-something mother is almost always more stylishly dressed than I am! So, if I walked in a store and saw her (or women like her) there, I would be thrilled!

  27. hi! i actually had the opposite reaction when I went into a store in ny. they have a lot of great pieces, reasonably priced, and i even bought some accessories for my 23 year old daughter. you just have to get passed the way things are displayed i think. the displays can make things look worse then they are. i love, love, love their new holiday pieces, really cute and HIP! everytime i wear someting new my friends ask where i got it and they never believe me!

  28. I was just in a CC in Santa Fe and it really felt quite upscale and ritzy with more jackets and dresses than our local CC which carries more color-coordinated “outfits”. I think the service in the CC stores is excellent. Our local CC has staff assigned to the dressing rooms only just to go grab different sizes or colors if you need them. I do buy more from their outlet although I have ended up with several “mystery-fabric” type shirts.

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