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Everything You Never Needed: Brookstone Calls It Quits

Photo credit: JJBers
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The store you hate to love is closing all of its brick-and-mortar stores. But Brookstone had more than scalp massagers and zero-gravity pen holders. Here are our favorite outdoor ‘accessories,’ from the outlandish to the … well, actually kind of cool.

Brookstone image courtesy: JJBers

We all have memories of wandering into a Brookstone — oftentimes triggered by the passing scent of cotton candy or the olfactory orgy of a Yankee Candle store. From pulsating massage foot beads to motion-activated peanut dispensers, this purveyor of the peculiar gave us a place to daydream and collectively wonder: Who the heck buys this stuff?!

The answer, it turns out, is nobody. Thursday, Brookstone filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced its intent to close all of its remaining 101 mall stores. The good news is that the brand will keep its airport locations and online store open. But the mall closings represent the end of an icon.

While Brookstone offered up aisles of shiny, overpriced household knick-knacks, it also contained more than its share of outdoor-specific gizmos. So run, don’t mall-walk, to check out this gear before it becomes just more clickbait.

Malibu Insulated Picnic Cooler: $90

Because wicker baskets are so 18th century, wow your partner with this portable catering service. Malibu’s Insulated Picnic Cooler doesn’t just hold a couple sammies and some fruit, it carries and organizes utensils and dinnerware for two (plus wine bottles). The set comes with two plates, two tumblers, four napkins, and a set of two stainless steel forks, spoons, and knives.

And because anyone who buys this considers charcuterie a food group, the Malibu also includes a hardwood cutting board, cheese knife, and corkscrew. Accordion and Impressionist oil-painting set sold separately.

Hammaka Trailer Hitch Stand: $150

Sure, hammocks are all the rage right now. But what about hammock chairs?! They’re half the size, sometimes twice the weight, and remain comfortable for about 12 minutes.

The Hammaka Trailer Hitch Stand allows hammock chair enthusiasts to take their giant diaper swings on the road. Similar to hitch-mounted hammock hangers, the Hammaka fits into a 2-inch hitch receiver, holds up to 250 pounds on each arm, and claims to install in minutes.

Power Plate My5 Vibration Trainer: $3,995

The Power Plate My5 Vibration Trainer looks like a great conversation starter — especially if those conversations start with, “What the hell are you doing?”

According to Brookstone, the Power Plate will help users “prepare faster, perform better, and recover quicker” by having them do stretches and stuff on a vibrating surface. Presumably, the vibrating surface requires you to use more muscles to stabilize, while simultaneously increasing heart rate by making the entire workout more frustrating and embarrassing.

Rightline Gear Mid-Size Bed Truck Tent: $180

Because not everything Brookstone offers is goofy (like, say, this $400 crash-landed flying saucer), this truck-bed tent from Rightline looks like something a fair amount of campers might actually use.

At just $180, this two-person, double-wall tent secures into the truck bed, lifting campers off the ground. This could be great when conditions are rocky, muddy, or you just want to bring less stuff.

GeoOrbital Pavement/MTB Electric Bike Wheel: $995-1,495

For the cost of a really nice, new bike, you could buy one wheel. OK, to be fair, it’s a pretty high-tech wheel. Available for road ($995) or all-terrain ($1,495), the GeoOrbital joins the “turn any bike into an e-bike” movement.

Swap out your boring old front wheel with a GeoOrbital, strap the thumb throttle to your handlebars, and cruise up to 20 mph — no pedaling necessary. The pavement wheels have a 12- to 20-mile range, while the A/Ts can crank for up to 27 miles. After that, it’s back to plain old cycling with one Robocop wheel.

Most interestingly, GeoOrbital outfits this device with a “never-flat” foam tire — which sounds great, except for the whole “foam tire” thing.

But whether these doo-dads make it into your gear closet or not, we’re sad to see another quirky, familiar name in retail go the way of the dodo. Maybe not because it provided things we needed or found useful. But because it, like Toys ‘R Us, Sam Goody, and Radio Shack (OK, maybe not Radio Shack), was shopping for the sake of shopping. It was just plain fun.

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