Claire’s Is Filing For Bankruptcy—But Our Mems Will Live Forever

Claire’s was the epicenter of our preteen shopping trips, and we can’t imagine a mall visit without it

Ebony Renee Baker
Claire's Bankruptcy: the retailer storefront

(Photo: Getty)

Picture this: You’re seven years old and you’re *begging* your mom to let you get your ears pierced. Finally, she let’s up and drives you to your local mall where your all-time fave store awaits, Claire’s.

For millions of kids and preteens growing up in the ’90s and early aughts, Claire’s was the go-to spot for cheap jewellery sets, hair accessories and, of course, those iconic ‘grab bags.’ But to our UTTER dismay, Bloomberg announced on Thursday that the beloved retailer may be planning to file for bankruptcy in the next few weeks due to a nearly $2 billion debt load.

We’re not sure yet if the store will be closing for good—Bloomberg says that after filing for bankruptcy retail chains are usually able to continue to operate until they figure out a solid plan to get out of debt. So get those chic af earring sets while you can, bb’s!

But obviously debt like that doesn’t accumulate overnight—Claire’s has been in a financial decline over the last few years. According to The Washington Post, the franchise closed 150 stores in 2016. Last year, TIME recognized Claire’s as a retailer in serious risk of bankruptcy along with other familiar names like True Religion and David’s Bridal.

Times are indeed tough, and apparently the novelty of Claire’s jewellery doesn’t have the same attraction for today’s kids (*tear*), who can nowadays shop for similar items at countless different retailers. Honestly, our hearts ache for the young girls who won’t ever get the chance to know the true joy of a Claire’s shopping trip. So while we are here in melancholy lane, here are some of our fondest mems of the retailer that many of us once called home.

“Claire’s was a HUGE part of my childhood. Every time I got birthday money or an allowance, I would head to my local mall and go to Claire’s. I absolutely loved their ‘grab bags,’ which were opaque plastic bags priced at like $1 or $2, and filled with random things inside. Even though they were often stuffed with end-of-season junk, the thrill of the surprise kept me going back for more.” — Laura Hensley, staff writer

“Back in the third to sixth grades, my gramps would take me to Claire’s on Fridays after school and hand me a crisp $20 bill. Little me was always too boujee for the ’10 for $10′ bins so I’d spend my money on something ‘expensive,’ like all of the Hello Kitty-branded merch. My dad ended up giving me the nickname ‘Sister Name Brand,’ which hasn’t left me since.” — Nezariel Scott, video editor

“Claire’s did for my early teen years, what the Disney store did for my childhood self—fill me with glee! It was such a liberating experience to walk into a Claire’s store, because you knew you could pretty much afford anything in it. It’s where I found my all-time favourite piece of jewellery: a gothic black beaded necklace, which I wore with EVERYTHING. At some point I must have entered the store for the very last time without realizing. Once you ‘grow up,’ you just never step back in.” — Sejal Kapadia Pocha, social media editor

“A pretty typical suburban preteen, I spent a LOT of time at the local mall with my girlfriends. We lived for Claire’s ‘10 for $10’ sales—which we would obviously split, because we each only had max $20 total to spend and still had to hit up Le Chateau for a spaghetti-strap tank and Kernels for a tasty snack. But, man, did that fiver go a long way. I remember one Saturday getting two Y-necklaces, a pair of magnetic earrings (remember??), some rad primary-blue nail polish and a multipack of coordinating scrunchies. Best. Day. Ever.” — Charlotte Herrold, style director

“I remember finally being old enough (eight) to get my ears pierced at the local Claire’s. I was so excited—I sat on that stool and picked out my studs will so much glee. One of my holes is definitely lower than the other, and I may have had a minor infection afterwards that required a quick trip to ER, but that doesn’t diminish my love and fondness for this classic establishment.” — Lauren Ufford, associate editor

Thanks for the memories, Claire’s.

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