How to Liquidate a Retail Business - Going Out of Business Sale
Store closing case histories can provide insight concerning the process and results that can be achieved from a professionally managed store liquidation.

Store Closing Case Histories

The following are case histories of Store Closing Programs conducted by G.A. Wright. 

SportStuff 

Situation

SportStuff was established as a small local ski shop and, during a period of 15 years, expanded to include four stores in three cities. The business was primarily ski oriented, but lines were added to include tennis, camping, athletic footwear, athletic equipment, clothing, and fashion active wear. 

A combination of high interest rates required to finance the opening of the fourth store, a declining general economy and the worst ski season in 15 years placed SportStuff in critical financial condition. 

The new store was closed to help remedy a negative cash flow situation. This resulted in heavy losses. Deterioration of credit prevented sufficient restocking of inventory and a poor start to the ski season placed the company very near bankruptcy. 

By January 1st, the company consisted of three stores in three cities. On January 18th, G.A. Wright was employed to assist with Store Closing Sales in these stores. 

Objective

All inventory in the company was to be liquidated at the highest possible price in a sale to the public. An attempt would be made to reorganize outside of bankruptcy. New inventory was to be financed with proceeds from the sale and outside capital, allowing the stores to reopen with a stock of summer inventory. If it became apparent that reorganization was impossible, the company would be completely liquidated. 

Analysis

The company began the sale and by March 15th, the gross volume from the sale surpassed inventory cost. At that point, an offer to purchase the remaining inventory at 50% of cost was accepted. 

The building and land of one store location, owned independently by SportStuff’s major stockholder, was sold during the sale. A tentative offer was made to purchase a controlling interest in the company, which included the lease, fixtures and improvements of the remaining two locations. 

The investor intended to purchase new inventory and reopen the stores under the same name. This offer was still tentative when the program ended. 

Conclusion

This G.A. Wright Store Closing Sale realized excellent results. A total gross return of 110% of original cost was achieved. All inventory, fixtures, equipment, leases, and real estate were sold. 

 

Yarbro Drug

Situation

Yarbro Drug was a family-owned drug store located in a regional mall.  A second generation family business established for over 30 years, the store was known for its gift lines and greeting cards and was one of Hallmark's largest accounts in the western United States.  Total non-prescription sales generated 65% of the store's annual volume, including greeting card sales, while prescription sales were 35% of the gross.

A new mall had opened nearby in August of the previous year.  The major department store anchor at the regional mall occupied by Yarbro vacated its space in June to open a store in the new mall.  The effect of that move, along with the customer traffic that the new mall was pulling from the older center, was devastating for Yarbro Drug.  While its prescription sales maintained nearly normal volume, over-the-counter sales began to plummet due to the lack of mall traffic.  Sales growth had already evened out in recent years and this sudden drop in the profitable OTC sales, coupled with a high debt load, had serious consequences for the business.  The company was forced into Chapter 11 reorganization.

The company, now under the management of the founder's son, still had an outstanding debt to a family member for the purchase of the business.  This debt was secured but subordinate to the existing bank debt.

"As you might imagine the decision to call it quits after 35 years was a very difficult one.  The store had a marvelous reputation and we wanted our customers to walk away with happy memories.  We also needed to generate a lot of money.  Your sale did both."~G.A. Wright Client - Yarbro Drug

Objective

The initial objective was to raise the cash necessary to continue to operate the business and to restructure the debt.  If the bank could be repaid, then the issue of reorganization could be considered.  If reorganization was not feasible, the second objective would be a total liquidation of remaining assets to repay the family creditor.

Analysis

On December 6th, G.A. Wright was hired to manage the first phase Sales Promotion Program and six months later was hired to manage the second phase Store Closing Sale.

The first phase of cash-raising promotion resulted in sales of 100% of beginning inventory at cost on an advertising budget of 5.6%.  Stock was replenished during and after this phase; however, a large portion of the cash went toward debt reduction.

After deciding the reorganization was not feasible, on May 31st, the second phase Store Closing Sale began.  Seven weeks later, gross sales had resulted in a 117% return on inventory cost with advertising of 4.3% of sales.

Conclusion

The sale of the inventory in two phases realized excellent results.  A combination of both phases allowed the owners to maximize cash flow while meeting their desired objectives.  In addition to the cash realized from the sale of store inventory, the balance of the pharmaceutical inventory and prescription files were sold to a national drugstore chain.  The fixtures and all equipment were sold.

 

Anderson Jewelry 

Situation

Anderson Jewelry was located downtown in a town of 35,000 people. The store was a family-owned jewelry and watch repair business that had been in operation in the same location for over 60 years. 

Due to the opening of a major mall 20 miles away, business downtown had declined drastically for a period of one year. After nearly 45 years in business, the store owner needed either to move his store to the mall or retire and close out his business. The decision was made to close the store. 

Objective

All inventory and fixtures were to be sold at the highest possible price with a Store Closing Sale. 

Analysis

Opening day of the sale produced a volume of 12% of beginning inventory. Total sales for the seven-week sale period represented a return of 120% on cost of inventory. An additional 5% was received from the sale of fixtures. 

Conclusion

The G.A. Wright Store Closing Sale was effective in obtaining a very high return on the inventory and meeting the owner’s goals.