Sporting goods to be sold today at big discounts

Sports Authority at Mesa Mall will begin liquidating its inventory today in its going-out-of-business sale. Stores around the country began selling off inventory Wednesday and will continue to do so until Aug. 31 or beyond. The sporting-goods retailer was unable to reorganize under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Sports Authority starts liquidating inventory today at the bankrupt retailer’s Mesa Mall location with discounts of as much as 30 percent expected storewide, a sales clerk working at the store said Wednesday.

Sports Authority retailers in other locations around the nation began selling off inventory Wednesday, the first day the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware said the sell-off could start, court records show.

“It’s not going to be huge — 10 to 30 percent, starting (today),” the clerk said.

Larger discounts are likely as time goes on, she said.

The court authorized the going-out-of-business sale to start “on or around” May 25 and terminate “on or around” Aug. 31, though Sports Authority could petition to extend the sale under certain circumstances, the court said.

The liquidation is the direct outcome of the court’s decision to approve a contract between Sports Authority and a trio of liquidating agents that bid together on the chance to sell “all or substantially all” of the sporting good retailer’s assets, court records show.

Sports Authority’s initial attempt to emerge from bankruptcy intact was quickly defeated by objections from around 100 creditors after the retailer petitioned to reorganize under Chapter 11 in March, according to documents filed by the retailer Tuesday.

In April and May, the Englewood-based retailer attempted to find a buyer for the business as a going concern, but no interested buyer stepped forward, the retailer conceded in bankruptcy filings.

Finally, “In an effort to maximize value ..., (Sports Authority) also offered (its) inventory for sale to liquidators,” the retailer’s lawyers told the court.

Ultimately, a liquidators’ joint venture — consisting of Gordon Brothers Retail Partners and Tiger Capital Group, both of Boston, and Hilco Merchant Resources of Northbrook, Illinois — won the right to conduct the liquidation sale.

The liquidations must be conducted according to a series of guidelines approved by the court. Among the “Sale Guidelines” ordered this week:

■ “Conspicuous signs that state ‘all sales are final” and ‘as is’ must be posted in all cash register areas.”

■ Normal business hours will be maintained unless the retailer and the liquidator agree different hours are necessary to maximize value.

■ Liquidators can advertise the sale as a “store closing,” “sale on everything,” “going out of business sale” or similar phrase, but are limited in the size and number of storefront banners it can fly.

■ Distributing handbills about the sale is prohibited, but sign walkers who twirl their signs “in a safe and professional manner” are allowed.


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