Could one longtime turnaround story actually be turning around? Despite my former skepticism, I'm beginning to suspect that Chico's (NYSE:CHS) might be pulling it off.

Chico's increased its second-quarter net income by 122%, to $14.9 million, or $0.08 per share. Even better, its sales increased 3.6%, to $419.9 million. Same-store sales increased by 1.3%. Its White House/Black Market chain led the way with a 3.7% increase in comps, while Chico's namesake stores' comps increased just 0.4%. The direct-to-consumer segment increased sales by a whopping 46%.

Things looked far bleaker for Chico's earlier this year. Its stock price had gone wild, even though it showed few signs of real operational improvement.

This quarter seems far more heartening. Even though the sales gains are modest, they're still gains -- a rare feat among retail names this earnings season. Chico's also has cash on the balance sheet and no debt, which always made it a slightly shinier investment than most peers.

Though Chico's may be finally pulling off a turnaround, I still defend my previous rationale for concern. Retail turnarounds are very difficult to execute, and investors shouldn't underestimate the dangers. Beset by changing fashion tastes and fickle, budget-conscious consumers, these retail recovery stories rarely end happily.

Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) rebounded relatively quickly from a major fashion stumble a few years back. But tons more retailers, including Talbots (NYSE:TLB) and Gap (NYSE:GPS), have struggled for years to little avail. Given its nasty numbers and teen shoppers' apparently growing indifference, I still wouldn't want to touch Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) with a 10-foot pole.

I'm not exactly all-in on Chico's, either. Its stock price has risen 193% over the last six months, even though the consumer climate remains fairly ugly. Given a choice, I prefer strong performers like Aeropostale (NYSE:ARO) and Buckle (NYSE:BKE). Still, I've got to give credit where it's due; even if its shares previously seemed to trade more on hope than anything else, Chico's did deliver some signs of life this quarter.

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Alyce Lomax owns shares of Urban Outfitters. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy.