Add Vanity Shop, a women’s apparel chain based in the Midwest, to the ever-growing list of retailers opting for bankruptcy amid a contracting brick-and-mortar sector.
Fargo, N.D.-based Vanity plans to close all 137 of its stores and is set to begin liquidation sales on Friday in an effort to ease the $10 million to $50 million in debt it listed in a bankruptcy petition filed late Tuesday. The company only listed $50,000 to $100,000 in assets.
Vanity’s largest creditors are nearly all merchandise wholesalers, but it owes nearly $160,000 in unpaid wages as well. The company is owned by Shazaam Inc.
Tiger Capital Group LLC will be overseeing Vanity’s liquidation and there were no indications in court documents that the retailer will continue to operate online after store-closing sales are completed in April.
As a mall-based store geared toward a younger, “fashion-conscious” consumer, Vanity has plenty of company in bankruptcy.
BCBG Max Azria Group LLC, The Limited and Wet Seal LLC, also mall brands geared toward a younger female shopper, have all filed Chapter 11 petitions this year citing variations on a theme — declining sales and a target consumer more keen to shop online.
The three brands are going about restructuring in a similar fashion, namely through sweeping store closings (revealed prior to officially filing for bankruptcy) and a refocusing on digital shopping. But it’s too soon to tell how any of those plans will work out.
Apparel geared toward young women is not the only victim of shifting habits. Sports retailer Eastern Outfitters filed for bankruptcy early last month, followed by a smaller sports retailer, Michigan-based MC Sports, which filed for bankruptcy in February and also plans to liquidate.
Luke’s Locker, another smaller sporting goods chain based in Texas, filed for bankruptcy in January.
While this year’s retail bankruptcies could be seen as merely a continuation of a years-long trend of brands finding themselves too deep in the red to turn things around, the pace of filings appears to be quickening in 2017.
Of last year’s 17 major bankruptcy filings, like those of Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., Aéropostale Inc., Nasty Gal and American Apparel, the first did not come until March, when Sports Authority went under.
Meanwhile, 2017 has already seen at least four major filings, and more are expected.