Liquidation begins today at Boscov's

Bankruptcy court approves chain's bid to turn over 3 stores to closeout specialists

August 16, 2008|By Andrea K. Walker and Lorraine Mirabella | Andrea K. Walker and Lorraine Mirabella,Sun reporters

Department store chain Boscov's Inc. will begin liquidation sales today at 10 stores it is closing, including three in the Baltimore area.

The Reading, Pa.-based department store chain, which has said its sales were hurt by a slowdown in consumer spending, received court approval yesterday to begin the clearance sales.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross signed an order authorizing a joint venture of Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC and Hilco Merchant Resources LLC to conduct the sales for the retailer. The joint venture submitted the highest and best offer for store merchandise and fixtures to be sold, the order said.

"In any of these sales, the best selections are early on," said Richard Tauberman, a Boscov's spokesman. "I think there'll be good price reductions."

Tauberman said he didn't know how deep the price cuts would be because Gordon Brothers is handling those details. He said they would be at least as good as, and probably better than, sales Boscov's normally has.

A spokeswoman for Gordon Brothers declined to comment.

"Merchandise will be marked down to sell fast," Stephen Miller, marketing principal and managing director at Gordon Brothers, said in a statement. "Everything must go."

Boscov's filed for Chapter 11 protection Aug. 4 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., and said it would close 10 stores. Those include anchors in three of Baltimore's largest shopping centers: White Marsh Mall, Owings Mills Mall and Marley Station. Three other stores in Maryland - in Westminster, Frederick and Salisbury - will remain open.

Store closing sales are expected to take about two months. Typically, liquidators quickly bring in experienced management teams to handle closings and set prices that are more deeply discounted each week over a set period.

Boscov's is the latest of numerous department store and specialty retailers that have been forced to shut stores in recent months or go out of business. Bombay Co., Sharper Image, Linens & Things, Steve and Barry's, Lillian Vernon and California-based department store chain Mervyns LLC all have declared bankruptcy.

The 87-year-old privately held Boscov's, which sells everything from appliances to apparel, expanded to Baltimore two years ago by moving into former Macy's locations. The openings were part of an aggressive expansion strategy into new markets.

The company said its stores in White Marsh, Owings Mills and Marley Station were not profitable.

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