Hot Topic (NASDAQ:HOTT) has lost yet another high-ranking executive within a matter of weeks. Maria Comfort, the Hot Topic division's chief merchandising officer, has resigned to pursue "other opportunities" (as it turns out, to be president and chief merchandising officer for Wet Seal (NASDAQ:WTSLA)). One could probably be forgiven for theorizing that pretty soon, CEO Betsy McLaughlin is going to be a one-woman show.

I only say that because not long ago, the company disclosed that the president of the Hot Topic division resigned -- after only one month at the job.

I'm not sure this is going to have the same kind of unsettling effect that similar news has had on some other retailers. American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) recently lost its chief merchandising officer, and that was seen as a possible blow to its strategy. Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) recently lost Chief Financial Officer Michael Kramer, and that was also perceived as a blow because of his reputation with analysts as the voice of the company to investors.

Hot Topic has been struggling to turn things around for quite some time (a glance at its five-year chart illustrates that point). In the past, I have questioned whether authenticity might be a missing element for the retailer, and I took a look around a Hot Topic store recently and still couldn't shake that theory, even if I did buy a Dead Kennedys T-shirt (all the while recognizing the irony of it all).

It's not impossible for retailers to provide authentic experiences to specific types of clientele, after all. Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) and Volcom (NASDAQ:VLCM) both do a very good job of that, without trying to stay comfortably within mainstream tastes. 

The good news is, perhaps Hot Topic will hire somebody who may help rejuvenate the retailer and the brand. Comfort had the role since 2005, so maybe some new blood could shake up that merchandise and strategy.

The bad news is that frequent executive defection and change can be difficult to navigate, and maybe investors should question why so many are jumping ship. With shares trading at 18 times earnings and the company facing what I consider significant challenges, I still say "buyer, beware" regarding Hot Topic. 

Volcom is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. American Eagle Outfitters is a Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of American Eagle Outfitters. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Urban Outfitters. The Fool has a disclosure policy.