Coldwater Creek’s Bankruptcy, Store Closings Hits Wausau


The announcement that Coldwater Creek is closing all of its women’s clothing stores hit the city of Wausau particularly hard. The community’s downtown mall also recently lost some of its biggest stores.

A plaque outside the Coldwater Creek store in old Washington Square commemorates the Heinemann Brothers Bee Hive store, where in 1866, “electric lights first brighted downtown Wausau.” Now, a more recent part of the city’s history is going dark, with Coldwater Creek just the latest in a string of retail stores that are shutting down.

“It’s kind of scary for Wausau,” said shopper Becca Doede. “I don’t want to see any more local businesses leave.”

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Doede heard the news while shopping just down the hallway from Coldwater Creek, where Beth Kuck sat outside a busy coffee shop.

“I’m stunned,” Kuck said. “It’s one of the few places I can go to buy petite clothes. (J.C.) Penney’s is in trouble. Sears is in trouble. Coldwater Creek … Retail in this country is bad.”

Penney’s is closing its anchor store in the nearby Wausau Center Mall, which has also lost the Gap and Hollister. Mark Craig of Compass Properties used to manage the mall. He now manages Washington Square.

“The impact this recession has had on retail nationwide…. Wausau is a microcosm obviously, with Penney’s, Gap, Hollister closing, and now Coldwater Creek,” Craig said. “We’re going to feel that impact.”

The impact has the attention of the Wausau City Council, which may waive the rent for the mall for an entire year. Mark Craig thinks the mall and the downtown will survive.

“There’s been some concern about them asking the city for some rent relief. I think that’s business,” Craig said. “It’s business as usual, and I don’t think people should take too much from that as well.”

Coldwater Creek is also shutting stores in Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Middleton, Pleasant Prairie and Wauwatosa