We visited a Charlotte Russe store on its last day open, and it was a depressing bargain bonanza

Charlotte Russe Cashier

Áine Cain / Business Insider

It was a depressing sight.

  • Charlotte Russe is in the process of liquidating.
  • I visited a store in Williamsburg, Virginia, on the day before it closed permanently.
  • The store was a mess, and the products were selling for ridiculously cheap prices.

Charlotte Russe is closing its doors permanently.

The company filed for liquidation earlier in March, joining the ranks of retailers that have gone bankrupt in 2019. This means that all of its 426 stores around the United States will close, and that over 8,700 Charlotte Russe employees will lose their jobs, according to USA Today.
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Read more: Charlotte Russe is closing all of its stores. We visited the retailer the day it filed it for bankruptcy and saw how it's fallen behind its fast-fashion rivals.

It also means that shoppers across America are getting the chance to pick at the carcass of the 44-year-old clothing retailer, as it attempts to sell off its remaining merchandise.

On a trip down to Virginia this weekend, I became one such shopper. My friend's a fan of Charlotte Russe's jeans, so we headed over to a nearby store to check out the closing sale.
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Here's what we saw:

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On Sunday, my friend and I swung by the Charlotte Russe store in Williamsburg, Virginia. She wanted to look into its going-out-of-business-sale.

On Sunday, my friend and I swung by the Charlotte Russe store in Williamsburg, Virginia. She wanted to look into its going-out-of-business-sale.

Our timing turned out to be pretty good.

Our timing turned out to be pretty good.
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We arrived on the last day before this particular store shuttered forever.

We arrived on the last day before this particular store shuttered forever.

And while a leftover sign indicated that the deals in the preceding days had been pretty sweet ...

And while a leftover sign indicated that the deals in the preceding days had been pretty sweet ...
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... the bargains we encountered were intense.

... the bargains we encountered were intense.

Walking in, I was struck by how deserted the store felt, despite the flock of customers.

Walking in, I was struck by how deserted the store felt, despite the flock of customers.
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Charlotte Russe was one of my go-to stores when I was a teen, so the sight of bare walls and metal racks was jarring.

Charlotte Russe was one of my go-to stores when I was a teen, so the sight of bare walls and metal racks was jarring.

The store retained a few glimmers of better times. Seeing the cheerful pink savings wheel amidst all the empty racks bummed me out.

The store retained a few glimmers of better times. Seeing the cheerful pink savings wheel amidst all the empty racks bummed me out.
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Feeling old and sad, I started making my way around the store.

Feeling old and sad, I started making my way around the store.

First up, I checked out the clothes. When it came to tops and dresses, there was only about one circular rack of heavy sweaters and wintry dresses left.

First up, I checked out the clothes. When it came to tops and dresses, there was only about one circular rack of heavy sweaters and wintry dresses left.
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And the jean racks had been picked through, too. Most of the remnants were smaller sizes. My friend remarked that maybe this was an indicator of a disparity between the sizes American shoppers wear and the sizes that stores stock.

And the jean racks had been picked through, too. Most of the remnants were smaller sizes. My friend remarked that maybe this was an indicator of a disparity between the sizes American shoppers wear and the sizes that stores stock.

The store's shoe section was particularly busy, with plenty of shoppers poring over $5 flats ...

The store's shoe section was particularly busy, with plenty of shoppers poring over $5 flats ...
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... and the swiftly dwindling heap of shoe boxes, organized by size.

... and the swiftly dwindling heap of shoe boxes, organized by size.

Each of these pairs also went for just $5.

Each of these pairs also went for just $5.
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There were also a handful of bracelets, necklaces, and earrings left over, although someone had gone around and sniped a number of the hoop earrings.

There were also a handful of bracelets, necklaces, and earrings left over, although someone had gone around and sniped a number of the hoop earrings.

I saw a few pieces that I liked.

I saw a few pieces that I liked.
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And I decided to grab some baubles for the road. The handful of jewelry ended up only costing me $3.42.

And I decided to grab some baubles for the road. The handful of jewelry ended up only costing me $3.42.

But accessories and apparel weren't the only thing on sale. Mannequins, racks, and shelving all had price tags, too.

But accessories and apparel weren't the only thing on sale. Mannequins, racks, and shelving all had price tags, too.
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There were even cleaning products spread out in the open, although I'm not sure whether or not those were for sale.

There were even cleaning products spread out in the open, although I'm not sure whether or not those were for sale.

Business Insider reporter Mary Hanbury wrote about encountering a horde of nude, grey mannequins in a Manhattan Charlotte Russe ...

Business Insider reporter Mary Hanbury wrote about encountering a horde of nude, grey mannequins in a Manhattan Charlotte Russe ...

Source: Business Insider

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... and the Williamsburg store was no different. The effect was pretty eerie.

... and the Williamsburg store was no different. The effect was pretty eerie.

Let's just say I wouldn't want to get locked in alone here at night.

Let's just say I wouldn't want to get locked in alone here at night.
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While the front of the store was empty aside from a few racks, the back section behind the checkout desk was a cluttered mess.

While the front of the store was empty aside from a few racks, the back section behind the checkout desk was a cluttered mess.

A wall of cardboard boxes divided the space ...

A wall of cardboard boxes divided the space ...
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... and bordered a maze of shelves and tables.

... and bordered a maze of shelves and tables.

The floor was also pretty dirty. Not that anyone cared. The employees were busy handling the closing sale, after all.

The floor was also pretty dirty. Not that anyone cared. The employees were busy handling the closing sale, after all.
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You could hardly expect them to obsess over cleaning a store that would be closed in a few hours,

You could hardly expect them to obsess over cleaning a store that would be closed in a few hours,

At that point, my friend and I wrapped up our browsing and got in line. My friend ended up buying shoes, hair accessories, bracelets, and makeup. The six products cost just $9.10 in total.

At that point, my friend and I wrapped up our browsing and got in line. My friend ended up buying shoes, hair accessories, bracelets, and makeup. The six products cost just $9.10 in total.
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There was a decent-sized line to check out, but the clerks kept everything moving along quickly. I asked the friendly cashier who rang me up about how the day was going.

There was a decent-sized line to check out, but the clerks kept everything moving along quickly. I asked the friendly cashier who rang me up about how the day was going.

She indicated that it had been a good level of busy for most of the day; products were selling, but the employees weren't overwhelmed.

She indicated that it had been a good level of busy for most of the day; products were selling, but the employees weren't overwhelmed.
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The cashier was also sure to note that, given that Charlotte Russe is going out of business, there wouldn't be an opportunity to return any of my purchases in the future.

The cashier was also sure to note that, given that Charlotte Russe is going out of business, there wouldn't be an opportunity to return any of my purchases in the future.

I was happy to walk away with a bag of cheap jewelry, but watching a company that I'd grown up with flatline in real time was a gloomy experience.

I was happy to walk away with a bag of cheap jewelry, but watching a company that I'd grown up with flatline in real time was a gloomy experience.

Did you work for Charlotte Russe? Business Insider wants to hear from you. Email acain@businessinsider.com.

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