It’s almost like you could not go to a mall in New Jersey without seeing Francesca's. And if you’re a man you may never have even noticed it. But women did. And the company is on its way to a major decline.

Like almost every other retailer during the coronavirus pandemic, they are having a hard time keeping afloat.

Here’s what’s so sad about Francesca‘s having these difficulties. You’ve got to understand what makes Francesca‘s different from any other mall women’s clothing chain. Francesca‘s was born with a bang in 1999 with a very, very different concept in young women’s clothes. And it was this: Even though they planned to expand all over the country, they would carry only a couple of each design in stock. That way, unlike the Forever 21‘s and the H&M‘s of the world, at Francesca‘s you would be buying something that you probably would not see anybody else in. You didn’t have to worry about going to a party and seeing somebody else in the same dress as you.

If you’re a woman, I don’t need to say anything else. You know what I mean. In addition to avoiding the “mass market” vibe of other mall stores, this concept made you really feel like you were shopping at a small boutique.

Eventually Francesca‘s grew to 700 stores in 48 states, including 28 in New Jersey. I can’t even tell you how many times at during stays at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, I shopped (just for fun) at Francesca’s in their indoor mall called The Quarter. And, as I mentioned earlier, it seemed more like a high-end boutique than a mall store. Francesca‘s temporarily closed a bunch of locations after people were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in their stores, which certainly didn’t help. They are hinting at bankruptcy now, but closing 20% of your locations just doesn’t look good for the future of the company.

Anyone who’s ever shopped at a Francesca‘s will be sad to hear that it’s possible their fun and trendy fashions, like those of a lot of other retailers, could soon be just a memory.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi’s own.