Why Did All The Fashion Bug Stores in West Michigan Close?
I was recently passing through Plainwell, MI when I was struck by a long-forgotten memory of yet another now-closed retailer, Fashion Bug. The former store at 411 Oaks Crossing is long gone, but I was curious to know what happened to the ill-fated chain. I've done the research so you don't have to!
Fashion Bug got its start in an Audubon, New Jersey shopping center in the 1960s. Owners Morris and Arthur Sidewater owned a chain of successful stores under their Charming Shoppes brand and decided to venture out with a new business model of selling both plus-sized and juniors/missy fashions.
At the height of their success Fashion Bug had over 1,200 stores nationwide, including 39 stores in Michigan. Like me, you may remember the Fashion Bug in the Oaks Crossing shopping center in Plainwell in addition to several other West Michigan locations in Battle Creek, Hastings, Byron Center, Sturgis, and Muskegon.
When I think back to my middle school days of shopping at the Plainwell Fashion Bug images of butterfly hair clips, low rise jeans, and shimmery mini-dresses come to mind. Ironically, those trends are all returning to stores once again!
The rise of big-box stores like Kohl's and Walmart created fierce competition for Fashion Bug and by the 2010s store locations started to vanish. In early 2012 Ascena Retail Group, the parent company of DressBarn, Maurices, and Justice, announced an $890 million buyout of Charming Shoppes Inc.
All Fashion Bug stores, including the five in West Michigan, were closed by winter 2013. The former Fashion Bug location in Plainwell became a Sleep Solutions store, but unfortunately, that has since closed too. Is that location doomed to fail?
Funnily enough, in all my research I was surprised to learn the Fashion Bug brand is still alive and well....on the internet. You can still see the familiar logo on the Fashion Bug website. Maybe all hope is not lost after all!
Do you have memories of shopping at Fashion Bug?