Iconic retailer filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation

The company, which has a storied history, has abruptly shut down.

Mar 2, 2024 - 10:30
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Iconic retailer filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation

Few brands stand the test of time.

If, for example, you visited a mall in the 1980s or 1990s many of the featured brands you saw there no longer exist. In some cases, entire genres of stores have gone from prominent — every mall had one, and usually more than one, music store, and multiple bookstores were common — to nearly nonexistent.

Some of that occurred as technology made some products irrelevant. Records and CDs have become expensive souvenirs that are more novelties than anything else. In the age of Spotify and Apple Music people might buy a physical Taylor Swift album to express their loyalty to the singer, but it's not how the public consumes music.

Related: Fast-food chain closes more stores after Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Bookstores have largely suffered the same fate, with mall-based chains Waldenbooks and B. Dalton as well as mall anchor Borders Books falling victim to diminished demand for physical books. In other cases, '80s and '90s mall staples simply succumbed to changing tastes.

Brands like Chess King and Merry Go Round had their moments but were never able to reinvent themselves as tastes changed. That's driven countless brands out of business since when tastes change, many chains can't adapt, sales fall off and the end becomes inevitable.

The list of bankrupt 1980s and '90s chains includes names like Fashion Bug, Gadzooks, Casual Corner and Montgomery Ward. Some of these brands, including Radio Shack, still exist in some limited form, but most have been consigned to history.

It's a history that makes any brand that stands the test of time impressive — especially one that has managed to make a successful transition from brick-and-mortar to online sales. 

But in the end few companies live forever. And one popular retail brand, founded in 1951, has abruptly filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with plans to liquidate.

Malls have experienced enormous turnover since the 80s and 90s.

Image source: Hanna Lassen/Getty Images

Popular retailer fails to pivot to digital

It's incredibly impressive for a company founded in 1951 to make it to 2024. The entire world has changed in that period, including massive technology leaps like cellphones and the internet.

Very few retailers have evolved enough to survive that long and, until Feb. 29, Polished.com, the former 1847 Goedeker's, was one of those success stories. The company had staked out a niche in the appliance space, according to its website.

"Polished is raising the bar, delivering a world-class, white-glove shopping experience for home appliances. From the best product selections from top brands to exceptional customer service, we are simplifying the purchasing process and empowering consumers as we provide a polished experience, from inspiration to installation," the company said.

The model was based on service, a deviation from most digital retailers.

"A product expert helps customers get inspired and imagine the space they want, then shares fresh ideas, unbiased recommendations, and excellent deals to suit the project’s budget and style. The goal is peace of mind when it comes to new appliances," Polished.com added.

That was a massive pivot from the former 1847 Goedeker's, which operated traditional physical stores that sold appliances, furniture, and home goods. 

Polished filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Troubling signs began to appear when the company filed its 2023 results late. In that brief report, the company also said that its creditors were clearly concerned.

"The company has received a Notice of Acceleration from its lenders asserting certain events of default relating to non-payment of certain principal and interest amounts and fees due and payable under the May 9, 2022 Credit Agreement on January 31, 2024," the company said.

At the time, the company said it was working to reach a resolution and would "pursue a defense to any potential enforcement action taken by the lenders." Those efforts did not work and the company has now filed for Chapter 7 liquidation.  

"Polished.com Inc. has suspended its operations. These steps followed a comprehensive review by the company’s board of directors of available strategic alternatives, and upon consultation with the members of the company’s management, with the assistance of the company's legal and financial advisors," the company said in a brief news release. 

The filing has not been made but the company expects to formally file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy "as soon as practicable." The status of unfulfilled orders is unclear.

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