I read today that Coldwater Creek has filed for bankruptcy protection and will be closing their stores within the next couple of months. It’s sad because I hate to see any popular retailer like that close, but also because it was my second home for a long time.
I was 29 when I started working part-time at Coldwater Creek. I had been a stay-at-home mom for over four years, and my kids were five and two, and I was itching for more adult social interaction. I was quiet, shy, insecure and timid. Why work retail, then, when I’d have to talk to new people every day? No idea why I latched onto this company, but I was glad I did. When I started with them in 2005, they were passionate about treating people well, both customers and employees. They fostered a warm, close-knit environment. As a result, the team at my first store was very much like my second family. I had more friends, moms and grandmas than I could count.
I blossomed with their love, support and encouragement. Within a year and a half, I had become an assistant manager. Before I knew it, I was helping lead a team of roughly 20 women. I was interviewing and training new employees, leading store meetings, joining in on conference calls…and I was doing it all with growing confidence. I may have been (may still be!) insecure about some things, but I knew that job inside out, and I felt sure that I was doing it in a way that my team appreciated.
In 2010, I became the store manager. It was scary, but not because I worried I couldn’t do the job well. My previous store manager and my district manager were convinced I would succeed. Everyone at my store had given me nothing but encouragement about being their leader, and I was excited to be taking the reins. Now I was in charge of interviewing and hiring the leadership team, I often led conference calls. I stood up in front of the team at every meeting; me, the girl who was petrified about public speaking. I was traveling alone cross-country to attend training sessions with groups of complete strangers…and I loved it. I trained other managers on new software. I drove myself six hours to train another manager–and I had always been terrified of highway driving and getting lost. But I did all these things because I had people counting on me, people who had no doubt I could do them. I had a team of women I loved who loved me, and their support meant the world to me.
I eventually moved to a bigger store, leaving my original family (which had changed a bit over the years) for a new one. I loved this new team too, even though it took a while to build up the connections I’d had with my first team. Again, they were loving and supportive, doing everything they could to help me, and the store, succeed.
I left Coldwater Creek in 2012 for a variety of reasons, but none of them were related to these women. The company had changed over the years; different leaders and different visions plus a recession meant more stress and a focus on profit over service and people. My family life was going through some difficult times, which made it harder for me to focus on work. So I’m a stay-at-home mom again, and I love it. You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to retail. But looking back at these pictures and remembering all the fun times I shared with these women, I can’t help but be nostalgic. Creekers, I love you. I miss you. I hate that there won’t *be* any more Creekers. I’m so grateful I had them to help shape me into who I am now: strong, confident, able to speak my mind and follow my instincts. So thank you, Coldwater Creek, for a great seven years. You’ll be missed.