Fashion Bug stores across the country will be closing by January, including 12 in the Akron area, as the longtime retailer winds down.
Charming Shoppes, which operates Lane Bryant and Catherine’s, was acquired this summer by Ascena Retail Group, the owner of Dress Barn, Maurices and Justice brands. At the time of the acquisition, the company said it would close down the Fashion Bug business by early 2013.
“We have greatly enjoyed doing business in the Akron area and would like to thank our customers for their loyalty,” said Gayle Coolick, vice president of Charming Shoppes.
Coolick said the schedule of store closing dates has not been finalized. Most locations are operating through January and the stores are having “total inventory blowout sales.”
The store on Atlantic Boulevard Northeast in Canton, however, will be closing by the end of the month, said Coolick.
The remaining Akron-area stores include locations in Akron on Waterloo and Canton roads and in Barberton, Kent, Streetsboro, Canton, Brunswick, Medina, Alliance and Massillon.
Sue Patton, district manager for the Akron and Canton market, said Ascena “gave us a real, fair chance, but it wasn’t toward their business plan.
“We know our customers are sad,” said Patton, who has been with Fashion Bug since 1984. Employees have all been asked to stay with the stores during the liquidation sales and can apply to other stores in the company, said Patton.
Sales have already begun, with some items 40 to 60 percent off. The liquidation of 568 Fashion Bug stores will be operated by a joint venture of SB Capital Group LLC, Tiger Capital Group and Great American Group. The stores have $500 million in inventory.
The first Fashion Bug opened in the 1960s in Audubon, N.J.
Judi Hollenbaugh of Barberton stopped by the Akron store on Waterloo Road recently and noticed the closing sign.
“They have a lot of styles that other stores don’t,” said Hollenbaugh, who estimated she’s shopped at Fashion Bug for 35 years. “It’s sad to hear when anything closes anymore.”
Videssie McGhee of Barberton said she shops at Fashion Bug for her dressy work clothes. She liked the sales and fashion.
“I’ll probably have to travel farther” to shop, she said.