Eastern Mountain Sports May Be Headed For Bankruptcy

Eastern Mountain Sports, a stalwart outdoor retailer founded in 1967, may be headed to bankruptcy court as soon as next week.

ems-logo

As reported by Bloomberg, Vestis Retail Group, owner of Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), may be headed for bankruptcy soon. Vestis also owns Bob’s Stores and Sport Chalet.

The Bloomberg report named a “person who asked not to be identified because the process is not public,” as the source of the news.

A bankruptcy by Vestis, owned by private equity firm Versa Capital Management LLC, would follow other large retailers on the bankruptcy trail.

Bankruptcy ‘Trend’ In Sports/Outdoor Retail

Sports Authority Inc., based in Colorado, filed for bankruptcy on March 2, closing 140 stores in the process. Boston-based City Sports filed for bankruptcy in Oct., 2015, closing all its stores and blaming its expansion into the suburbs as its downfall.

If the EMS bankruptcy occurs, it would be another signal of a downward spiral in traditional outdoor retail. Online shopping sites and other factors have hurt “brick and mortar” stores nationwide.

Yet while some businesses have fallen on hard times, others have flourished. REI posted major profits in 2015, with a 9.3 percent growth and reported annual revenues of $2.4 billion. REI now has more than 6 million co-op members.

EMS as well as Canadian chain MEC are consanguineous brands, though not as successful. EMS opened in 1967, and the first store was founded in Wellesley, Massachusetts, by two rock climbers. Over the years it expanded across the U.S., but the store’s brand and presence was always strongest in the East.

Today, headquartered in New Hampshire, the company operates 68 stores around the Northeast as well as an online shop.

What will be the fallout of this week’s news? Yahoo Finance reports “bankruptcy doesn’t have to mean the end for EMS” but its parent company, which manages EMS, Bob’s Stores, and Sport Chalet, “will likely close a ton of stores… and initiate layoffs.”

The publication states, in the longer term, the parent company will want to “keep the chains in business.”

We wish the best for EMS. It’s been a part of the outdoor scene for multiple generations and we hope to see the brand come out of this slump to regain its prowess as a place to learn about the outdoors, get educated, and buy gear.

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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