Business is a cutthroat world. And just because a company is the most popular one in a city or has been in business for decades and decades, doesn’t guarantee it’ll thrive in the future. The 2017 year was especially rough on brick-and-mortar retailers who couldn’t keep pace with online competitors. Click through to see which retailers went out of business in 2017 and which brands are trying to live on.
The Limited started with just one store in Ohio in 1963, then grew to 750 stores at the height of its prominence, reported Reuters. However, on Jan. 17, 2017, the clothing company filed for bankruptcy protection after it closed all 250 of its remaining stores. This year, it also quietly downsized and cut jobs.
The Limited’s intellectual property, including its eCommerce site, was sold to Sycamore Partners in a bankruptcy auction for $26.8 million. The venture capital firm intends to continue operating the website, according to Reuters. The Limited was a fixture in malls for decades, but as online sales continued to eat at brick-and-mortar profits, The Limited could not adapt, reported USA Today.
Wet Seal first filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015 after closing 338 stores — about two-thirds of its locations. An investor brought the women’s apparel chain out of bankruptcy, and the remaining stores stayed open until early 2017, reported Fortune.
This year, after it was unable to raise money to keep the lights on, the company sent a letter on Jan. 20 stating it was permanently shutting down and all employees were being let go. Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 2, 2017. The retailer’s demise was blamed in large part on decreasing foot traffic in malls, according to Business Insider.
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Eastern Outfitters, the parent company of Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports, filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 5, 2017. Just the year before, the company had gone into bankruptcy to divest itself of its Sport Chalet stores and reorganize around Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports, reported MarketWatch.
While Eastern Outfitters was in bankruptcy and after it closed its stores, British retailer Sports Direct purchased about 50 remaining stores to enter the U.S. market. The deal was approved by the bankruptcy court on April 19, 2017.
Bridal retailer Alfred Angelo began in 1933 with just one shop, then grew to over 60 stores under the ownership of the founder’s children, according to The Washington Post. The company closed all of its stores on July 13, 2017, without any warning to customers, leading to many unhappy brides who were left without a refund or a wedding dress.
According to its bankruptcy filing, filed on July 14, 2017, the company had just $50,000 in assets and over $50 million in debt. The company struggled to compete as more brides wanted faster service with dresses off the rack, while Alfred Angelo remained mired in tradition, reported the Sun Sentinel.
Electronics retailer Hhgregg announced it was preparing to file for bankruptcy in February 2017, reported Bloomberg. The actual bankruptcy filing was made on March 6, 2017, and listed only $50,000 in assets and between $100 million and $500 million in debt.
The company was believed to have a buyer that would allow the business to continue, according to CNBC. However, after a month of discussions with private equity groups and other potential investors, the company announced its liquidation on April 7, 2017. Hhgregg was unable to keep up with top retailers like Amazon and others in a very competitive sector, reported Fortune.
AeroGroup International, which was spun off from Kenneth Cole in 1987, declared bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2017. The footwear chain was unable to compete with declining mall traffic, a highly competitive market and consumers preferring to shop online rather than in stores, according to Bloomberg.
The company closed 30 stores in 2016 and shuttered all but four in 2017 under the bankruptcy filing. The company hopes to restructure through the bankruptcy process and focus on selling its shoes online and in existing retailers, reported Reuters.
BCBG Max Azria
Women’s apparel brand BCBG Max Azria continues the trend of retailers being undercut by online shopping and not adapting quickly enough, reported Reuters. The company announced it was planning to file bankruptcy in late February 2017 and submitted its bankruptcy filing on Feb. 28.
The company had closed many stores already. But in June 2017, two buyers — Marquee Brands and Global Brand Group — stepped in to buy the company’s remaining intellectual property and stores in an effort to reinvent the brand without founder Max Azria. Besides competition from online retailers, the company also struggled with the cost of operating 175 stores and differentiating its products with consumers, reported Racked.
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When discount chain Gordmans filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 13, 2017, it had over 100 stores across the country, reported Bloomberg. About half of Gordmans stores were purchased by Stage Stores, which would continue to operate them, in a deal announced March 30, 2017. The remaining assets were to be liquidated, according to the Houston Business Journal.
The company struggled to keep up with changing times and more people shopping online, weighed down by heavy debt. Stage Stores expects that without that debt burden and unprofitable locations, the brand can become a profitable subsidiary.
Vanity, a women’s clothing store based in South Dakota, filed for bankruptcy on March 1, 2017. After being in business for over 50 years, it made the decision to close its 140 stores due to increased competition from online companies, according to U.S. News. All the store closing sales were completed by April 2017, and then all stores were closed.
Gander Mountain, which once billed itself as “America’s Firearm Superstore,” went down in flames in 2017, declaring bankruptcy because its 160 stores weren’t profitable, reported Reuters. Though a small portion of its stores remained profitable, the company struggled as many customers ordered online and Gander Mountain couldn’t sustain the cost of its physical footprint, reported the Chicago Tribune.
The company filed for bankruptcy on March 10, 2017, and a portion of its stores and intellectual property were purchased by Camping World Holdings, Inc. in an auction on April 28, 2017. Camping World intends to continue to operate at least 17 stores, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.