|Typical interior of a C. Wonder store|
Fashion and accessories retailer shifting gears.
New York-based C. Wonder will reportedly close as many as 20 of their 32 locations as of January 1, 2015. This news was first reported by BuzzFeed (the site originally known for awesome lists and throwback photos is apparently getting into Mashable territory with breaking news coverage.)
The report also suggests that C.Wonder's corporate staff has already shrunk from 120 to around 75 people in the past year.
Metro Atlanta is currently C. Wonder's third biggest market after New York (8 stores) and California (4 stores).
C. Wonder operates full price retail stores in Lenox Square in Buckhead (opened 2012) and at Avalon in Alpharetta (opened a few weeks ago). An off-price C.Wonder Outlet opened at The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta (in Woodstock) last year.
Started by serial entrepreneur Christopher Burch in 2011, C. Wonder has often been called a cheaper Tory Burch concept. Chris Burch was once married to Tory Burch, and was heavily involved in the creation of the now billion dollar Tory Burch retail empire. Some fashion analysts have gone so far as to call C. Wonder "revenge retail," given its similarity to Tory Burch.
Personally, I see C.Wonder as a mashup of Lilly Pulitzer, Kate Spade, Tory Burch and Henri Bendel... with quality just above Gap.
The company's flagship and first retail store is on Spring Street in New York's SoHo neighborhood.
I reached out to C. Wonder stores around the country to try to learn which stores would close. Though I was unable to get a complete store closure list, I was able to get a good idea of what the C. Wonder store count will look like in early 2015.
In some cases, the managers of the stores seemed completely unaware of yesterday's report, while in others, the employees referred me to the C. Wonder corporate office.
I got a concrete yes or no at most of the stores, and based on those responses, have compiled the list below:
SoHo New York (Flagship) - Staying Open 
The Shops at Columbus Circle (Flagship) - Non committal, but likely closing.
Flatiron - Just opened in August and "has no plans to close."
Roosevelt Field - Non committal, could go either way. (The mall is currently undergoing an expansion which may affect the likelihood of another retailer being willing to assume their lease.)
The Westchester - Closing
The Gate at Manhasset - Staying Open 
Walt Whitman Shops - Closing
Southampton - Staying Open 
The Summit - Non committal, but likely closing
Santana Row - Closing
The Village at Corte Madera - Staying Open 
Fashion Island - Staying open 
Fashion Valley - Non committal, could go either way
Mall at Millenia - Staying Open 
Avalon - Staying open 
Lenox Square - Closing
The Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta - Closing
The Fashion Mall at Keystone - Non committal
The Shops at Canal Place - Non committal
Nantucket - Already closed for the season. Like Southampton, likely will remain open as a "pop-up"
The Somerset Collection - Staying open 
Garden State Plaza - Non committal, but likely closing
The Streets at Southpoint (Durham) - Staying open 
*I find this location remaining opening odd. Perhaps the store is misinformed or in unfavorable lease.
Easton Town Center - Closing
King of Prussia Mall - Closing
Philadelphia Premium Outlets - Closing
King Street - Staying open 
Tysons Corner Center - Staying open 
The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City - Wild card, could go either way
[ ] - Indicates stores I expect to remain open after 1/1/15.
I was unable to obtain information on the status of C. Wonder international locations in The United Arab Emirates (2 stores) or Kuwait (1 store). I would think that since these three stores are licensed, they are likely to be unaffected by the domestic closures.
Currently all U.S. stores are participating in the company's "Friends & Family" promotion which offers shoppers 30% everything in the store. According to a number of associates, this sale is likely to continue into black Friday at which point deeper discounts may be offered. Unsold merchandise from stores closing will reportedly be transferred to stores remaining open.
According to the BuzzFeed report, the closure of up to 20 of its 32 locations by January 1st is "depending on how lease negotiations unfold." With this in mind, I think it may entirely likely that the stores announced to be closing may not be the only ones, but only represent those where lease obligations were favorable to closures or where other retailers were ready and willing to take their place.
Avalon for instance, just opened, and is staying open, while Lenox, which has been open for over a year and appeared to be doing well, is closing.
I think we may see a similar store reduction with C. Wonder as we saw over a decade ago with F.A.O. Schwarz. In 2001, the giant toy retailer operated over 40 locations across the country but closed about half of them. Flash forward to today, the chain operates a single flagship in Manhattan in addition to an online and "boutique" presence in Toy "R" Us stores. (Toys "R" Us purchased F.A.O. in 2009.)
Going forward, reports suggest C. Wonder hopes to establish itself as an omnichannel business; selling direct to consumers via its own ecommerce and retail storefronts as well as via wholesale accounts. The wholesale business could prove challenging since Tory Burch is likely already carried by the retailers C. Wonder would hope to court.