Claire’s at mall to close Jan. 24

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Claire’s Stores Inc. is closing its store in Northbridge Mall.

The Albert Lea store is one of 119 stores closing companywide, said store manager Amber Engebretson.

She said she was informed of the decision to close the store last week.

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“We’re all pretty sad,” she said. “It was a fun place to work.”

The store has four employees.

The company is closing its low-volume stores, the manager said. “Some stores have been struggling,” Engebretson said. “Especially the ones in smaller towns and smaller malls.”

The store plans to be open through Jan. 24, but if there is inventory left, the store may be open a day or two longer, Engebretson said. Merchandise is now 50 percent off, with more markdowns planned.

Claire’s is a specialty retailer of jewelry and accessories for girls and young women.

“We’ve had a lot of sad little girls — and sad parents, too,” said assistant manager Jenna Stene.

Claire’s Stores Inc. reported net sales of $333 million for the third quarter, a 6.8 percent decrease from the 2007 third quarter.

After decades of steady growth, Claire’s Stores undertook a review of strategic alternatives, ultimately leading to the company being sold to Apollo Management VI in 2007, its Web site says.