Comic book fans, video game players, nerds and geeks in mid-sized U.S. cities will have to find somewhere else to buy books and merchandise from their favorite franchises: Hastings will soon fire all its staff and close all of its stores in the U.S.
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month and hoped that someone would buy the struggling retail company. Unfortunately, there were no takers, leaving Hastings with only one option: liquidate all inventory, fire all staff and close all of its 126 stores.
"All Hastings stores, our e-Commerce business and our corporate office will all discontinue operations at the end of this process," Hastings said in a statement. "On Friday, July 22, the Bankruptcy Court is expected to approve our agreement with the companies who will oversee our store closing sales, Hilco Merchant Resources LLC and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC."
That means that each store will need to get rid of merchandise in an "everything must go" sale.
In the short term, that means that geeks can find a lot of nice merchandise at their regular Hastings stores at greatly discounted prices. Now is a good time to stock up on cheap books, comic books and video games, as well as pop culture-related merchandise. The bad news, though, is that Hastings stores in many smaller cities are the only place for fans to find those kind of items, so the store closings will affect them as well as potentially other local businesses.
Hastings has some serious debt, though, including a great amount owed to comic book distributor Diamond. The company simply cannot pay that debt, which includes around $80 million in loans and $59 million in trade bills.
Two companies showed interest in buying the retailer, including Gordon Brothers and Bloomberg LP. In the end, though, no one ended up saving the struggling bankrupt retailer.
Hastings began life as a family-owned store in 1968 in Amarillo, Texas. It eventually spread across the southern U.S. and parts of the Midwest, serving mostly areas that don't have other similar retailers. The company currently employs about 3,850 people, all of whom will soon find themselves looking for new jobs.
Hastings will close its doors on Oct. 31, but all movie and game rentals are no longer available. Also, any gift cards issued by the retailer automatically expired on July 13. The company also stopped the store's buyback and trade program.