Wavedancer Inc., a Columbia-based chain of youth-oriented stores specializing in beachwear and skateboards, filed for federal bankruptcy protection this week in an effort to gain rent relief from its mall landlords.
Melvin J. Caldwell, attorney for the company, said all six of Wavedancer's stores remain open and that the 10-year-old chain expects to stay in business at all locations. The chain employs about 60 people.
The company, owned by Vincent J. Cerniglia and Mary Catherine Noell, has stores at Owings Mills Town Center, Columbia Mall, Annapolis Mall and Towson Town Center, as well as Springfield Mall and Tysons Corner in Virginia.
In its Chapter 11 filing Tuesday, Wavedancer listed assets of $1.1 million and liabilities of $748,608. Mr. Caldwell said yesterday that the asset figure is understated because the chain's inventory was valued at the wholesale purchase price.
He said Wavedancer sells such items as bathing suits, beachwear, surfboards and skateboards.
He said that Wavedancer was not the "typical" retailer filing for Chapter 11, adding that the company had little bank debt and was not under pressure from suppliers.
He said that the recession and a highly seasonal business that is now at its low point had left Wavedancer unable to afford the high rents charged in the local malls.
He added that he hopes to renegotiate the current leases. But he acknowledged that Wavedancer could decide to close stores in expensive malls and reopen in other locations.