A former high school classmate and cherished old friend when reconnecting with Roger through Facebook quoted the old saying: "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The years have seen a number of life changes for us that make that adage ring true. After being blessed with good fortune, a wonderful son and great experiences, we decided to look out that window and prepare for more of what this wonderful life has to offer. We hope through our blog to share our journey from this point forward with family, with friends and with many others. Hopefully we'll make some new friends along the way. We hope you find our tales of some interest, even amusement and perhaps an inspiration for you to treat each and every day as an opportunity and an adventure to share with those who are an important part of your life.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bye, Bye Chico's!

Back in the 90's when we lived in Pembroke Pines, Florida, I took Suzanne for a beach getaway to Sanibel/Captiva Islands on the gulf coast. It was there she discovered Chico's. Back then they didn't refer to it as "The Original Chico's", the way they do today. You see back then, it was still a small emerging retailer. In fact there were only two or three stores.
It was a love affair at first sight and as their relationship grew, oh my,oh my, how Chico's grew! I remember the opening of multiple stores in Arizona after we relocated there in 1999.
I remarked to co-workers when Chico's went public that I should buy some stock as a hedge against our purchases there. (I should have! The stock price soared to more than twice its initial cost in the first year!)

Suzanne wasn't just fond of a particular Chico's....she shopped them all and she could tell you all the subtle differences. She knew when and what type of new merchandise would arrive and when it was likely to go on sale at a particular store. She shopped frequently enough that at least two stores in the Phoenix market even knew ME on a first name basis and I was always offered water, tea or coffee when we came in together.

I don't know if Suzanne was the true customer inspiration for Chico's preferred customer "passport" program but she certainly was the poster child for its success. Hardly a half week went by without a special email from them. The general jist was " Suzanne, we love you and miss you, please come shop with us again." They were usually followed by a personal phone call from at least two different stores announcing a special discount or preferred customers hours. One store manager even promised cookies and refreshment for your husband. It all worked and Suzanne loved the style and quality of the items she bought. Suzanne's wardrobe is overwhelmingly dominated by items from Chico's.

When it came to our final holiday gathering, she received three Chico's gift cards. Hubby wasn't among those...I had already scored on a vested jacket that was 50% off plus I got an additional 15% special early passport shopper's discount by using her passport id number. The amount of that gift puchase also earned credits toward a discount on her next purchase. (Suzanne trained me well!)

With gift cards in hand and our anniversary coming just behind the holiday, it didn't take long to cash in those gift cards. Our anniversary getaway was a long weekend to Sanibel Island where we enjoyed the sun, the sand, shelling on the beach and, of course, shopping at Chico's. (Interesting how life can bring you full circle, isn't it?). This time, the sign did read "The Original Chico's".

Suzanne thoroughly enjoyed her shopping and used her gift certificates wisely. I scored super mega hubby brownie points for planning a great anniversary trip. And two old best friends got to say goodbye to each other before one headed off to Ecuador.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if someday down the road, our cell phone rings as we're sitting in Parque Calderon and a voice on the other end sweetly whispers: "Suzanne, we love you and miss you. Come shop with us again."

The Yazell's are moving to Ecuador. If you own Chico's stock, prepare for a drop in the share price. You have the option to sell or you may just want to hang on until they announce the company is expanding to South America. My bet is that their first Latin American store will be in Cuenca. I just hope they remember to bring my cookies!

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