Virtually half the store fronts in the Cross Creek shopping center are empty, so when our local Shabby Chic, purveyor of $4,000 sofas and $400 sheets, started a closing sale, we thought it was part of the local trend. Turns out founder Rachel Ashwell, who turned her gift for genteel thrift store decor into an empire, is pulling back. Way back. As in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
All of the Shabby Chic stores, as well as the web site, are closing down. You can still find Ashwell's for-the-masses version of Shabby Chic at Target (pronounced Tar-jhay), but the real stuff is now on sale for 30 percent off. (Which makes a small, battered bookcase $400 at the Malibu store.)
But with an entrepreneur like Ashwell, who added to the English language with her take on crumbling English gentility, it's not over. She still owns the name and the brand and, as she promises on her blog, she'll be back with something new, someday soon.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can browse Craigslist, where the words "shabby chic" mean so many things to so many people.