- In Ogdensburg, N.Y., 99-year-old Hulett & Sons Jewelers is closing up shop. The jeweler, which is part of the larger Hacketts store, is selling its inventory to help Hacketts stay afloat. Hulett & Sons first opened in town in 1910.
- Alma, Michigan's Miller's men's shop is folding after 47 years in business. Owner Duane Stacey blames clothing trends and shifting shopping habits as driving forces of the closure.
- And legendary Memphis music store Pop Tunes closed both locations this month. Pop Tunes dates to 1946 and was not shy to discuss its demise, noting the "rampant illegal downloading ... low margins, big box retailers" and other factors as factors in the closings.
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Theme park operator Six Flags filed for bankruptcy this weekend after a lengthy struggle with its debt load. The company is defaulting on $1.8 billion in oustanding obligations. Six Flags is the largest theme park operator in the U.S., with 20 parks scattered around the country as well as in Canada and Mexico.
Six Flags vows that the bankruptcy filing will not affect park operations, which are reaching peak season as schools let out for summer.
This one slipped by: the mail-order BMG Music Service closed its membership in March. The company would not comment on long-term plans to maintain or shut down the service. Surprisingly, existing members are still receiving information and (ostensibly) making purchases.
BMG was the last remaining music subscription service, having acquired Columbia house in 2005. Parent company Bertelsmann then sold the business to Direct Brands last year. The bmgmusic.com website directs people to a website called yourmusic.com, while columbiahouse.com still appears to be accepting new members.
Barnes and Noble may be cutting hours of stores in order to keep doors open, but Borders, about to announce its 4th quarter of '08 numbers, has another plan, to be revealed next week. We're thinking "slash and burn" is the plan. Its stock is trading at 69 cents. It had terrible holiday numbers. And:
Borders also is expected to ask shareholders to approve a reverse stock split at its annual meeting on May 21 to use if necessary to push the share price above $1 and avoid delisting.
You may not have expected to see the recession come to Reno and Vegas, and yet! Herbst Gaming will lose control of its 15 casinos in Nevada, Iowa and Missouri in its new bankruptcy filing; the company blames its expensive expansion in the Nevada market in 2007. And extremely troubled Progressive Gaming, which at one time provided gaming systems for casinos, filed for liquidation this week.
Insiders have revealed that Virgin Megastore will be closing all its locations by this summer. Timely Demise covered three of the six closings last week; specific plans for the other three, in Denver, Hollywood and Orlando, have not been revealed. Billboard.biz reports parent company Virgin Entertainment Group North America will be liquidating in conjunction with the closings.
Even with six stores, Virgin Megastore was among the last and best-known national music chains. All coverage of this news notes what TD spotted last week: that Virgin Megastore's real estate ownership is going to profit more handsomely from increased rent--even in a down market--than it has as a music retailer.
Virgin Megastore, the large music and media center that anchors large metropolitan areas, is pulling back. Virgin announced the closing of its Union Square stores in both New York and San Francisco this week, not long after deciding to leave Times Square in New York City.
Virgin Entertainment was bought by two real estate companies in 2007, so the moves are not just retail-driven. The rent for incoming Forever 21 in Times Square will be much higher than Virgin has paid since its 1990s opening. Indeed, this was part of the rationale behind the purchase--good for Related and Vornado, the current owners, if not for the Virgin Megastore brand.
The fate of Virgin's three remaining megastores has not been announced.
Trump Entertainment filed for bankruptcy this morning to restructure a billion dollars in debt. This is the third bankruptcy filing for the company, whose bondholders are angry and trying to interfere with the movement. Donald Trump has resigned from the board of his company in frustration.
Sirius XM Radio has been rescued by Liberty Media, which is paying hundreds of millions of dollars to keep the satellite broadcaster from defaulting on its loans. The deal gives Liberty Media a non-controlling minority stake in the company. Despite earlier reports of a bankruptcy filing, this last-minute maneuver--loan payments are due today--keeps the company on safe ground.
Subscription radio company XM Sirius is preparing a bankruptcy filing amid rumors the company may be sold in full to EchoStar, which is responsible for much of XM Sirius' debt. The satellite radio player has been battling its debt load and a low stock value for many months. Analysts have been angling for an EchoStar buyout to preserve the core business.
(Full disclosure: this author is a longtime XM subscriber and fan.)
The Milwaukee area is losing its 82-year-old Harry W. Schwartz bookstores due to unavoidable market changes. The stores acknowledge changes in consumer habits, such as e-books and the Internet, as well as the current economic conditions plaguing other businesses. Interestingly, its management believes single-location specialty bookstores may thrive in the future, whereas the small-chain model of Harry W. Schwartz is not relevant in the current environment.
New York magazine has an article in this week's issue on the increase in bankruptcy filings for businesses in the nation's largest city. The angle: many of the chapter 11 filings, rather than reposition the filer for a restructuring, are instead precursors to going out of business. "There is not financing available for the reorganization process," says a lawyer in the article. A music studio and car dealership owner are quoted as wondering how they can possibly stay open.
Britain is suffering from the economic downturn in similar fashion to the US. Music retailer Zavvi announced 22 store closings today, citing financial investment--and not consumer demand--as the driving force. Yesterday, retailer Marks & Spencer (similar to Macy's in the US) announced it was closing 27 stores and laying off staff; the century-old chain Woolworth's shut down all its operations this week after a final holiday-season sale. While this page is focused on America's retailers, similar stories are playing out daily across the pond.