2008 Ends Big Year for Store Closings

Joe Skorupa
Editor at Large
Joe Skorupa profile picture
By Joe Skorupa

My New Year's resolution is a wish for better things ahead in retailing in 2009. But before moving into the New Year, here's a comprehensive look back at store closings, bankruptcies and liquidations from A (A.C. Moore) to Z (Zales).

RIS ran its first store closings story on March 11 and then regularly tracked it for the remainder of the year. The coverage drove record numbers of readers to our newsletters and Web site. The success of this coverage actually broke through to Wall Street financial gurus, who contacted us frequently about it, and the Washington Post, which called to interview me for a major feature story.

However, our coverage did not meet with universal approval. Some accused us of focusing on downbeat news to the exclusion of success stories. Some said we were wrong to highlight these stories because trimming the herd happens all the time in retailing and this was nothing out of the ordinary. Finally, some comments centered on the theory that we were providing fuel for a self-fulfilling prophecy, as if our coverage was contributing to the financial meltdown.

The strangest criticism came from those who accused us of supporting Barak Obama. I kid you not. In the timeframe from September to early November these critics said the media was biased against McCain and any story we published about problems in the economy were in support of Obama's candidacy.

Fortunately, the critics were vastly outnumbered by the avid readers. To me, denying a problem exists ensures it will never be solved. Recognizing a problem is the first step down the path to true future success.

The following is a recap of the RIS store closings coverage for 2008. Here's hoping 2009 will bring a record year for store openings.

84 Lumber: On October 20th, the retailer announced plans to close an additional 20 stores, up from the 30 previously announced, and expects the number of store closures for the year to reach 80.

99¢ Only Stores: The dollar-store chain is closing 48 of its stores and exiting Texas. The discount retailer will instead focus on growing its 230 locations in Arizona, California and Nevada.

A.C. Moore: The arts and crafts retailer will close seven to 10 underperforming stores this year.

Ann Taylor: Announced it will close117 stores.

B. Moss Clothing Co: Unable to find a buyer, the women's specialty clothing retailer filed for bankruptcy on December 2. The Secaucus, NJ-based apparel chain, founded 69 years ago, is closing all of 70 of its stores.

Barbeques Galore: With 65 stores, the retailer filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early August. The company cited the slow housing market, as well as inability to obtain financing, as primary reasons behind its bankruptcy. On September 15th, the company announced the sale of "substantially all" of its assets to Grand Hall Enterprise Co. which intends to maintain Barbeques Galore as the chain's banner.

Big Dogs: With 231 stores at its peak, Big Dog was down to approximately 140 stores by the end of 2007. Today, it has 71 stores left to close. The retailer expects 63 to 68 more stores to close through January 2009, leaving it with six to eight stores, which will allow it to liquidate remaining inventories in 2009.

Big Dollar: Announced it will close 10 of its stores.

Boscov's: Filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Bruno's Supermarkets: Twenty-two of its 40 in-store pharmacies at Bruno's and Food World will close throughout Alabama and Florida. The locations being closed will sell their inventories and prescriptions to CVS. The remaining Bruno's and Food World pharmacies will continue to operate.

Build-A-Bear's Friends 2B Made Stores: Build-a-Bear will shutter all nine Friends 2B Made stores and the concept's associated product line by the end of its fiscal third quarter.

Cache: The luxury woman's apparel retailer plans to close 20-23 stores this year.

Charming Shoppes: The plus-size retailer announces plans to close an additional 100 stores during its fiscal year 2010, which begins February 2009. This is on top of the 150 stores the company announced it would close earlier this year. These closures are scheduled to be complete by January 31, 2009. Most of the closures announced earlier this year involved closing 100 Fashion Bug stores.

Circuit City: The electronics giant will close 150 stores and cut thousands of jobs in lieu of filing for bankruptcy. The struggling electronics retailer hired bankruptcy lawyers and did not want to file for Chapter 11 before the holiday season, but it was forced to when it could not get necessary financing.
Dawahares: The Lexington-based retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is closing nine of its stores.

Dahle's Big & Tall: Closing eight stores by January 2009 and has plans to lease seven to Casual Male.

Dillards: Announced it will close six retail locations, as well as its Louisville, Kentucky-based distribution center.

Disney Stores: Announced it will close 98 stores.

Ethan Allen Interiors: The company announced plans to close 12 of 300+ stores in an effort to cut costs.

Fred's: The discount department store chain will close 60 underperforming stores.
Foot Locker: Announced it will close 140 stores.

Friedman's Jeweler's: Announced it will close 120 stores and that it is currently going through bankruptcy proceedings.

Gap: The apparel retailer will close 85 of its Gap brand stores in fiscal 2008.
Geoffrey Beene: The men's apparel chain is closing 100 outlet stores. All goods will be liquidated by the end of fiscal 2008.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company: Goodyear announces plans to close 92 underperforming locations across the country by the end of the year in a move to improve the profitability of its U.S. retail operations. Six hundred employees will lose their jobs as a result of the store closings.

Goody's Family Clothing: The family apparel retailer filed chapter 11 bankruptcy and is closing 69 stores.

Harold's: Specialty apparel chain announces it is closing all 18 of its stores. The 60-year-old retailer, which specializes in traditional, classic-styled ladies' and men's specialty apparel, began storewide 'going-out-of-business' sales.

iFloor: The flooring retailer filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 4 and began closing 35 of its stores. It also eliminated 90 of its 150 employees.

KB Toys: The 86-year-old toy retailer filed for bankruptcy on December 11, with plans to close its stores because of a sudden drop in sales in the past two months. KB Toys, which currently operates 460 locations, owes Hong Kong-based trader Li & Fung $27.2 million.

Kirkland's: Announced it already has closed 30 of its stores and is considering closing up to 100 more stores.

Kmart: Closing four stores, including three Super Kmart supercenters. These stores are scheduled to close in September 2008.

La-Z-Boy: Plans to close 15 to 20 La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries stores as a result of slumping sales. The company also is continuing to consolidate its warehouses supporting its La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries dealer base.

Lane Home Furnishings: Eight furniture stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware will close. Store closing will continue into December, according to Lane's parent company, Furniture Brands International.

Lifetime Brands: All remaining 53 outlet retail stores, which include 39 Pfaltzgraff factory stores, eight Farberware outlet retail stores and six clearance stores are closing. The company also plans to close its 473,000-square-foot distribution facility located in York, Pennsylvania in 2009. Lifetime Brands will continue as an Internet and catalog retailer.
Lillian Vernon: The online and catalog retailer filed for bankruptcy in February, attributes that rising shipping and inventory costs cut into profits.

Linens 'n Things: Announced it filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 2, 2008, and will close 120 stores. With 589 stores at the beginning of 2008, the home goods retailer first filed for bankruptcy and ultimately closed 218 stores. Now, the retailer announced it will fully liquidate its remaining 371 after it failed to find a qualified bidder to continue operating the company.

Macy's: Announced it will close 9 stores.

Marty's Shoes: Secaucus, NJ-based Marty's Shoes announced it will close all 47 of its shoe stores on September 12.

Mattress Discounters: On 9/11, 30-year-old Mattress Discounters filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time since 2002. The bedding retailer cited the industry downturn, weakened economy and new competition from furniture companies as major factors behind closing 48 of its 140 locations.

Mervyns: Ailing department store chain announced this week it will now close all 149 of its stores. Mervyns locations will be closing as soon as holiday-period liquidation sales are completed. Mervyns originally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 29. All 149 stores will close after inventories have been sold.

Movie Gallery: Announced it will close 160 stores as part of reorganization plan to exit bankruptcy. This follows plans to close 400 of 3,500 Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520 locations the video rental chain closed last fall.

Office Depot: The office supply retailer announced on December 10 that it will close 112 underperforming stores, mostly over the next three months, plus an additional six distribution facilities. New store openings for 2009 were slashed from 40 to 20 and job cuts could total 2,200. After the closings, Office Depot will have 1,163 stores and 27 distribution sites in the United States and Canada.

Olsson's Bookstore: Chain of five Washington-based bookstores shut its doors on September 30.

Phillips-Van Heusen: Announced it will close 75 of the stores and transform 25 stores into Calvin Klein outlets.

Pacific Sunwear: Announced it will close153 Demo stores.

Pep Boys: Announced it will close 33 stores.

Piercing Pagoda: Zales Jewelers, which owns the jewelry kiosk, announced plans to close a total of 105 Piercing Pagoda locations including 50 kiosks and 55 stores.
S&K Famous Brands: The apparel chain plans to close 30 percent of its 196 nationwide stores. S&K Famous Brands announced in July 2008 that it would close 58 underperforming stores.

Saks: The upscale department store chain will close 98 Club Libby Lu specialty stores and expects to close the shops by the end of its first quarter in 2009. It also closed its Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based store.

Sears: The department store will close eight stores after posting a third quarter net loss and a 9 percent decrease in comparable-store sales. The company swung to a loss of $146 million for the quarter ended November 1, compared with profit of $4 million a year earlier. Sears notes that part of its loss comes from a $101 million charge for expenses related to the closure of 14 stores during the quarter.

Sharper Image: The company filed for bankruptcy protection and announced that 90 of its 184 stores are closing. The retailer will still operate 94 stores to pay off debts, but 90 of these stores have performed poorly and also may close. A few weeks later it announced all remaining stores will be closed and inventory liquidated.

Shoe Pavilion: The Sherman Oaks, CA-based footwear retailer, Shoe Pavilion, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 16, 2008, but now says it plans to close all 64 of its remaining locations. As of March 29, 2008, the off-price shoes and accessories retailer operated a chain of 113 stores. Since filing bankruptcy, Shoe Pavilion has closed 49 underperforming stores, leaving it with 64 left in the chain.

Sound Advice: Parent company Tweeter Home Entertainment Group announced 94 store closings after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time in less than a year. Tweeter filed for bankruptcy in June with a debt of $165 million.

Sprint Nextel: Announced it will close125 retail locations.

Steve and Barry's: The discount apparel chain has begun closing 103 stores throughout the U.S. with liquidation sales at these locations underway. In July 2008, BHY Holdings LHC, an affiliate of investment firms Bay Harbour Management and York Capital Management saved the company from bankruptcy. Now, the retailer intends to operate with a smaller base of 173 stores, in an effort to achieve profitability.

Talbot's Kids, Mens: The company reported that 78 stores will close after disappointing sales were reported for the children's and men's apparel stores.

Tweeter: Bankrupt U.S. electronics retailer Tweeter abruptly closed all of its stores, fired its employees in early December, and asked a bankruptcy judge to convert its Chapter 11 case to Chapter 7 liquidation days before the chain's going-out-of business sales were to conclude. Tweeter, which had about 94 U.S. stores, filed for bankruptcy protection on November 5.

Urban Behavior: This moderately-priced teen girls' apparel chain expects all of its existing stores will be liquidated by the end of October. DJM Realty, a retail real estate liquidation firm, has listed 60 Urban Behavior U.S. stores totaling 290,646 square feet as available. Urban Behavior's Farmington, CT-based company, CMT America Corporation, originally filed Chapter 11 on July 13.

Urban Interiors & It's Gotta Go: Announced it is closing its only two Seattle, Washington-based stores.

Uni-Mart: The C-Store, which operates under the banners "Uni-Mart" and "Choice" filed for chapter 11 on May 29, 2008 and expects to close 45 stores.

Value City Stores: The department stores chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late October. Seventy-five Value City stores across the country have closed since December 2007.

Virgin Megastore: Vornado Realty Trust, which purchased Virgin Entertainment last year, announced it plans to close the Times Square and Union Square locations in New York City in the first quarter of 2009. Other store closings are expected.

Whitehall Jewelers: Has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The 373-store jewelry chain cited the economy as a leading factor. In April 2008, the retailer acquired the inventory, assets, deposits, and leases of 78 Friedman's stores, which went bankrupt in January 2008.

Wickes Furniture: Announced it is closing 38 of its stores.

Wilson's the Leather Experts: Announced it will close158 stores.

Woolworths: The UK retail chain is closing after failing to attract a bid to save more than 25,000 jobs and avert the largest collapse of a British retail chain. The 815-store chain would have celebrated its 100th year next February.

Zales: Announced it will close 100 stores.
Below are the orginal stories the above closings, bankruptcies and liquidations were aggregated from.

More Blog Posts In This Series