Attention: Piercing Pagoda and Zale are NOT Closing

 You may have received an email which starts: “Stores that informed the Security Exchange of closing plans between October 2008 and January 2009.” According to the email, which I’ve received several times in the last week, Zale is closing 105 stores “after January” and Piercing Pagoda is closing all its stores. You can see it posted here.

As the premier bogus-email debunker snopes notes, the email is “a mixture of accurate, inaccurate and outdated information.” For instance, it correctly notes that Whitehall and several other retailers are liquidating. But the parts on Zale are wrong, according to company spokesman David Sternblitz.

“We closed 106 locations last year,” he says. “Half of them were kiosks, and we opened nearly as many jewelry stores as we closed. So we ended the year with a net negative four stores.”

He added, “There are no large scale closings planned on this time. Our strategy is the same: There may be one-off store closings as leases mature.”

As for Piercing Pagoda, “Saying Pagoda is closing is absolutely crazy. [CEO] Neil [Goldberg] said on the most recent conference call that Pagoda is one of our growth vehicles.”

The email warns consumers against buying gift cards from closing chains, as they’ll be worthless if the chain closes. But Sternblitz notes that even if some stores close, Zale gift cards will remain valid at other Zale’s locations.

Still, the email has certainly gotten around, Sternblitz says: “It just feeds on itself. I heard about it on the radio this morning. I’ve had TV stations call me from all over. We have addressed this internally but once these things start, it’s very hard to control it.”

On the plus side for Zale, the company has stirred up some buzz with its new “string” Christmas commercial, at least if you count all the people posting it on Youtube. It is a little bit more conventional that the company’s truly great Mom’s Day commercial – but it’s affecting, and the look on the woman’s face is particularly well done. See it here ..

And, in a sure sign that the ad has seeped into the public consciousness, it was parodied this week on Jay Leno  ..

JCK News Director