Daily Venus Diva announced today that retailer, Ashley Stewart, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. I'm not surprised by this announcement from the Ashley Stewart camp.
I worked for Ashley Stewart for many years as a part time sales associate. I wanted to move into management and started the transition, but decided to concentrate on school instead. While I was employed with them, I saw many problems with the corporation, the quality of clothing and its customers.
The customers that Ashley Stewart cater to is primarily African American women. I love my sistas, but a lot of us only buy clothes when there is a special occasion. Some of our customers would only come in during tax time, the first of the month, Indiana Expo weekend, Circle City Classic weekend and Mother's day. It's not being sterotypical, it's true. That was our prime shopping days. If it weren't for those days, Ashley Stewart would barely make their numbers. The returns are also abundant after those events; consumers would buy and return on a regular basis. Can't make any money like that.
The quality of Ashley Stewart clothing is sub par. When Ashley Stewart first opened in the Indy market, they carried well made clothing. I don't know if the distributor changed or if decline in profits affected their construction and material, but I stopped shopping there because of loose hems and shoddy craftsmanship. I would buy a bra and wash it once and it would crumble. Even if I hand washed the items, the clothes wouldn't rebound from the wash.
Ashley Stewart needs a better marketing strategy. Many retailers like Lane Bryant and Torrid almost perfected their market penetration. Outlet stores, online sales and coupons help tremendously. Ashley Stewart just opened up its website to online sales recently. Most of Ashley Stewart's in store merchandise cannot be found online and their online products are dismal and lack luster. Ashley Stewart's parent company, Urban Brands, just wanted to market to urban females. There are a plethora of plus size women of all different ethnicity, races and don't live in urban communities. They put all their eggs in one basket, and it didn't pay off.
Now the company is in jeopardy. Hopefully the company finds their mistakes and work on fixing them. I would love to shop at Ashley Stewart again. I want them to rise out of bankruptcy, not only for my own benefit but I have a lot of friends that still work for the company that would lose their jobs if profits don't increase.
Do you shop at Ashley Stewart? What are your likes/dislikes?