The last couple of years have been tough for retailers. Customers continue to turn to online shopping, store sales are declining, and many malls are losing long-time tenants. However, some retailers have decided not to go down without a fight. Instead of succumbing to the losses, they have chosen to revive their brands and enter a second act online.
Here are 15 failing stores that came back to life online.
1. Linens ‘n Things
Linens ‘n Things filed for bankruptcy in May 2008. The company struggled because of a downturn in the economy. As the housing market declined, banks became strict with lending, and consumers had less cash to spend, the home furnishings market took a hit. In 2009, Linens ‘n Things was revived and continued to conduct business on its website.
Next: This retailer was popular among technophiles.
2. Sharper Image
Sharper Image was a favorite among shoppers looking for the latest tech toys and home items. If you wanted to stay on top of tech trends, one of the first places to look used to be Sharper Image. The company was founded in 1977 and expanded to more than 300 stores throughout the United States. However, it filed for bankruptcy in February 2008. Two years later, Sharper Image relaunched and resumed selling items through SharperImage.com as well as the Sharper Image catalog.
Next: This chain retailer is making a surprise comeback.
3. Circuit City
Circuit City is making a comeback. After a 10-year absence, the electronics store is set to resurrect itself from the dead by rolling out products on its new website. The retailer also plans to eventually open kiosks and smaller stores within other stores, reports Twice. CEO Ronny Shmoel announced during the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show that Circuit City’s updated website will include search by photo, augmented reality, and real-time tech support.
Next: This store said good-bye to physical locations after 20 years.
4. American Apparel
American Apparel shut its doors in 2017, after almost 20 years in business. The retailer was sold for $88 million following approval from a Delaware bankruptcy court. The company’s intellectual property and manufacturing equipment were sold to Canadian apparel company Gildan, reports The Atlantic. Gildan also shelled out an extra $15 million to acquire American Apparel’s purchase orders and inventory. AmericanApparel.com is now the store’s new home.
Next: This store was a favorite among teens.
Delia’s used to be the go-to store for teen and pre-teen shoppers. This popular mall store sold everything from accessories to party dresses. It also gained a following from its colorful catalog. However, by December 2014, the company decided to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. By August 2015, the store made a comeback as an online retailer.
Next: This store was the place to go for discounted items.
6. Filene’s Basement
Discount clothing retailer Filene’s Basement announced its third bankruptcy in November 2011. The retailer used to be part of Filene’s department stores, which were purchased by Macy’s in 2005, reports The Boston Globe. Filene’s Basement failed due to its inability to keep up with outlet stores and online retailers. The store decided if it couldn’t beat them, it would join them. Filene’s Basement re-emerged with a new website in 2015.
Next: This retailer was almost purchased by Sears.
7. H.H. Gregg Inc.
Consumer electronics chain H.H. Gregg, which was founded in 1955, announced its bankruptcy in March 2017. The brand is now owned by holding company Valor LLC, which outbid Sears during a bankruptcy auction for just $400,000, reports Digital Commerce 360. H.H. Gregg later relaunched its website as part of a plan to become an online-only retailer. Physical stores might be resurrected at a later date.
Next: This brand is popular among celebrities.
In 2017, women’s fashion retailer BCBG announced it would close 120 stores. The store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2017, and listed liabilities of more than $500 million, reports Chicago Tribune. Shuttered stores included the BCBGMaxAzria, BCBGeneration, BCBG Factory, and Herve Leger brands. Although some physical stores remain open, BCBG found new life through its online store. BCBG said in a statement part of its overall plan is to focus on e-commerce.
Next: Declining sales almost put this retailer out of business.
This women’s clothing store was founded by CEO Manny Mashouf in 1976. In April 2017, BeBe announced it would close all its stores due to declining sales. Bebe’s sales for the first six months of the 2017 fiscal year were $189.2 million, down 13.5% from a year earlier. In addition, the company saw a net loss of $13 million during that period, reports USA Today. Unlike many of the other stores on this list, the stores closed without a bankruptcy filing. BeBe continues to sell women’s clothing and accessories online.
Next: This store was often seen at malls.
10. The Limited
It seems like 2017 wasn’t a good year for clothing retailers. Women’s clothing store The Limited filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2017, and closed all 250 of its stores. The company was later purchased by private equity firm Sycamore Partners. The purchaser also owns Nine West, Belk department stores, and Coldwater Creek. TheLimited.com is now where the retailer’s clothing is sold.
Next: This retailer tried to keep some stores open, but failed.
11. Wet Seal
In January 2017, Wet Seal announced it would close all 171 of its stores. Wet Seal filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2015. It was later acquired by Versa for $7.5 million in cash, reports The Wall Street Journal. During that time, Versa said it would keep some of the stores open, but that plan didn’t work out. However, the retailer is still doing business online.
Next: Music lovers were sad to see this store go.
12. Tower Records
Tower Records was the top destination for the latest music. However, as music became available online, record-store foot traffic started to wane. In addition, big-box retailers began selling CDs at significantly discounted prices. After more than 40 years in business, the music store declared bankruptcy in 2006. Tower Records still has an online presence outside the United States in places such as Ireland and Japan.
Next: Some say their childhood died when this store closed its doors.
13. FAO Schwarz
Toys stores were hit hard in 2015. FAO Schwarz shut down its brick-and-mortar store in July 2015 after being in business for almost 145 years. The Toys R Us Times Square flagship store in New York also closed that same year. However, your favorite childhood toy store isn’t gone forever. FAO Schwarz is still alive and well on the internet. Rumor has it that a physical store might re-open in the Fall of 2018, according to Commercial Observer.
Next: This retailer took baby steps toward revival.
14. Bombay Company
Furniture retailer Bombay Company announced its bankruptcy in September 2007. By 2010, Bombay Company returned to sell home accessories on QVC. It also placed displays in Kroger stores, reports the Dallas Morning News. In 2012, the retailer unveiled a new site, giving its products new life online.
Next: This store was affected by the economic downturn after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
15. Service Merchandise
Service Merchandise announced it was going out of business in January 2002. The economic slowdown and sluggish sales after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks negatively affected the company and stalled plans to reorganize after it declared bankruptcy in 1999, reports Fox News. However, Service Merchandise continues to do business online.
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