A Brand That People Had Never Given Up On

Everybody loves a good comeback story and we’re all hoping to hear a lot of them in the future. Coldwater Creek is a perfect example of a company that had lost its way, but a brand people had never given up on. Today, they’ve redefined their brand and primed to resonate with women who want beautiful clothes and accessories inspired by the spirit of nature. It’s stories like this that provide inspiration in retail’s darkest moments, and we wanted to share this one.

Let’s go back to 2014. The retail environment was starting to be challenged by consumers who were spending less and not visiting malls as often. Catalog-based retailer Coldwater Creek had been in business for about 30 years after stemming from an idea in a couple’s apartment. Its sales were declining and the company couldn’t find an investor. So, it decided to file for bankruptcy and close all of its 350-plus brick-and-mortar locations.

From its early beginnings, Coldwater Creek’s mission was to take the cultured, affluent, middle-aged woman to a place she loved, namely the outdoors. Throughout the nineties, the brand’s catalog business grew. With collections of clothing, jewelry and gifts inspired after nature and places of natural sanctuaries, it connected with its consumers on an emotional level. It opened its first physical store in Sandpoint, Idaho, a picturesque town in rural America during that decade.

It did well for a while, until its stores were too big and unproductive. At the time, Coldwater Creek turned to discounting and over promoting instead of focusing on the things that customers had originally loved them for – an inspiring brand with relevant products.  A private equity group, Sycamore Partners saw potential and bought the brand out of bankruptcy. They focused on building the fundamentals with the nearly one million customers that still cheered for the brand in its darkest time. Sycamore focused on reviving its base first online, then a new catalog.

Then, in November 2017 they decided to try physical retail again. Coldwater Creek was ready for big ideas when they engaged us. The brand didn’t want a typical store and was ready to abandon its formal, structured feel. Already four new locations have opened this year and more are planned.

It took drive to adapt, drive to recognize and respond to consumers as we know them today. This is a brand that loyal customers had never given up on, but a brand that had lost its way. As Coldwater Creek champions, “We believe in reinventions, second chances, new steps and next phases,” so do we.