Bed Bath & Beyond’s bankruptcy declaration never seemed fully real.
The legendary brand had such an outsized presence that it seemed inevitable that a white knight would step up at the last minute to keep at least some of its stores open.
That happens with retail bankruptcies, and it had just happened with David’s Bridal. At essentially the last minute the chain found a buyer, which enabled it to keep most of its stores open and, perhaps more important, deliver the thousands of wedding dresses that brides nationwide had ordered.
Bed Bath & Beyond did not find a savior, but it also did not disappear. The company then known as Overstock.com stepped in and bought its intellectual property, which includes the Bed Bath & Beyond name. The company then took the moniker as its own, giving new life to the name, albeit in a digital-only (for now) fashion.
The new owner has suggested that new brick-and-mortar locations could open, but they likely would be nothing like the ones that closed.
Now, another chain faces an even more complete end as its final day in operation will pass without a buyer stepping in to save the day.
Christmas Tree Shops had a devoted fanbase that loved the retailer. But that audience was not large enough, and the chain’s name, which implied that it sold Christmas merchandise year-round, did it no favors as it grew outside the New England towns that knew that the chain was a broader discounter.
A name change to CTS did not help, and the brand, which was once owned by Bed Bath & Beyond, filed for bankruptcy in May. At the time, the chain expected to be able to reorganize and make deals with its creditors in order to stay open.
That’s a difficult path for retailers. Vendors have withheld merchandise from chains that might not be able to pay them. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where bare shelves make it impossible for a struggling company to turn its business around.
Bed Bath & Beyond faces that problem and it was ultimately part of why Christmas Tree Shops had to move from a Chapter 11 reorganization to a Chapter 7 liquidation.
Now, the final day has come for Christmas Tree Shops, and the brand will almost certainly disappear — at least for now).
Until a retailer actually closes, it’s always possible a buyer will step in and rescue it.
That happened with David’s Bridal, when a new owner simply agreed to pay its bills and fund operations. No cash was paid for the brand, but a bankruptcy court judge agreed that protecting jobs and having vendors get paid was worth allowing the deal to happen.
Christmas Tree Shops ends its liquidation sales on Aug. 12, a Saturday, when courts are not open, so it appears the closure will not be averted.
The chain’s assets have not been sold and it’s unclear whether an auction for its name and other assets will take place. Christmas Tree Shops never had a digital sales presence — its website does not sell anything — so it’s an unlikely contender to be brought back as a digital-first brand.
In retail, however, goodbye is rarely final. Toys ‘R’ Us came back as a store-within-a-store concept inside Macy’s, and Sharper-Image-branded products are on the shelves at Target. Bed Bath & Beyond was gone for a few weeks and countless other big retail names have returned in some fashion.
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This story was originally published August 12, 2023, 9:00 AM.
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