I have always called it Claire’s Boutique. In 2016, the company does official business as Claire’s Stores, Inc., but the classy boutique will always sound right to me.

My first defining Claire’s moment was getting my ears pierced — second hole — at age seven. Very advanced for a second-grader, but I had one of those cool moms. Claire’s is best known for its costume baubles: sparkling earrings, mood rings, crystal body tattoos. The big shtick was (and continues to be) a free ear piercing when you buy a pair of earrings. I rememberpurple fixtures and a purple logo and considered it all to be sort of expensive even though it really wasn’t. (There were those famous five-for-$10 sales.) I was a child of the Pittsburgh suburbs; Claire’s was my connection to a broader, much cooler world: slap bracelets, body glitter, rave-inspired pacifier necklaces.

And yet, any mention of Claire’s and those sparkly memories quickly float out of my head and my cheeks flush with aggravation. The details are a bit tedious, but all you need to know is that at age 13 I was accused by a store manager of stealing a rainbow-colored beaded daisy chain. I didn’t do it! My moral fibers were wound entirely too tight at that point to attempt any sort of robbery, no matter how minor. I managed to escape somewhat vindicated, but not as much as I would have liked. The woman still believed I stole the necklace, even though my guilt could not be proved.


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