Signage for the electronics store Brookstone in the Silicon Valley town of Palo Alto, California.
Smith Collection/Gado Getty Images
By Bloomberg
July 28, 2018

Brookstone Inc., whose quirky products are a staple of airport shopping, is preparing to close most of its stores as part of a bankruptcy filing, according to people familiar with the matter.

A filing could come as soon as this month, said the people, who declined to be identified because the process isn’t public. The company is still evaluating its stores and may opt to keep locations open in airports, the people said. It plans to maintain its website and brand, one of the people said.

“We are currently seeking ways to revitalize our retail business,” the company said in a statement.

The specialty gift retailer, which sells everything from remote-control drones to massage chairs, would be the latest in a spate of bankruptcies in an industry beat down by online competition and a surfeit of stores. Mall tenants in particular have suffered, leading to bankruptcies like Gymboree Holding Corp., and Rue21 Inc., which reorganized with fewer stores. Other merchants like Bon-Ton Stores didn’t survive.

Brookstone has 140 stores in the U.S., including 36 in airports, according to its website. The site lists five locations in Atlanta’s airport alone.

This would be Brookstone’s second trip to bankruptcy court since 2014, when the Merrimack, New Hampshire-based company filed a Chapter 11 petition with a deal to sell its assets to Spencer Spirit Holdings Inc. for about $146.3 million. A group of Chinese buyers backed by retailing conglomerate Sanpower Group and Hong Kong-based private-equity firm Sailing Capital subsequently outbid Spencer with a deal valued at about $174 million.

The 53-year-old company began with an ad placed in Popular Mechanics, according to its website, and was named after the farm where the founders lived. In 1973, it expanded from its catalog offerings (with items like self-watering plant pots) to open its first store. The company says it helped introduce brands such as Fitbit and iRobot to American consumers.

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