mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Farewell, C-Mart...

Years ago when I was in college, I remember flipping through the Baltimore Sun and seeing handwritten ads on the back of the Sunday Sun for a store with discount stuff called C-Mart. I could never figure out where it was, and it seemed way too far out to be worth driving to.

Years later, I was driving back from my an outing at my boss's boat which he kept docked in Joppatown, and passed C-Mart. I ended up dragging a coworker who I was giving a ride to into there, and it seemed interesting, although not really selling anything I needed.

A few months later, in 2006, right after I bought my townhouse and before I moved in, I discovered that C-Mart was having an auction. They had a bunch of furniture, plus pallets of stuff. I dragged bsom there twice, once for registration and preview, and once for the auction itself. I ended up buying a pallet of ski boots for $100. I did OK with them on eBay. Also, the day of the auction, they had a bunch of "last chance" furniture marked down, and I ended up snagging two pieces of a 3-piece leather sectional for $100. And I become hooked on C-Mart.

They weren't too far away from my new house, and for the next couple years I would go there pretty regularly, usually because of something interesting in the email newsletters they would send out. They bought out some interesting stuff, from video game stores to drugstores to truckstops to clothing stores, and I scored some decent deals - some clothes I really like, an electric teakettle I use all the time, and some cables that I sold for a nice profit at hamfest. Sometimes I went by myself, sometimes I convinced bsom into going. Even though most of the stuff there was crap, it was fun to see what was there and pick through it.

The last time I remember going there was last summer - I bought a bunch of clothing and some tennis balls, because I was on a very short-lived tennis kick. After that, I stopped getting emails and they stopped updating their webpage, so I didn't really have a reason to go.

I subscribe to the Baltimore Sun, but often don't get around to reading it. I was bailing up newspapers for recycling on Sunday, and discovered that they were closing up. The way the article was written, I got the impression it was too late.

But I happened to check their website today, and noticed they were open until Saturday, so I went today. Everything was 90%, and was completely picked over - I really wish I had gotten there a week or two ago. There was almost nothing there, and what was left was mostly woman's clothing and household/seasonal stuff. I did pick up a few things, mostly from the bins near the register - a $2.40 blazer, a 60 cent battery charger for a digital camera, a $1 Kenwood charger for a radio (which looks to be worth about $20 on eBay) and a 35 cent pack of Panter cigarillos. Most of the people there were buying carts of stuff, probably for resale. It took me about an hour to check out. It probably wasn't worth the time for what I bought, but I felt a certain need to make one last purchase there.

So what killed CMART? The article in the Sun cites the poor economy, but I tend to agree with the many commenters who thing that is wrong. They tried to expand too much and in the wrong ways - opening a store in PG County near DC (which made bargain hunting more of a pain, since the stuff you were interested in wasn't always at the store near you), then closed that store. They made a big deal that they were going to sell online, but they never had more than a few items online, and the layout was awful. They stopped buying cool stuff, stopped telling people about the cool stuff they bought, and so people like me stopped having a reason to go there.

I'll miss it. There literally was no store like it that I've ever seen, and I've shopped at a ton of stores - where else can you find designer clothing next to designer furniture next to cheap electronics next to cigars from a store whose humidor got hit by a car?


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