Herb Philipson, the sporting goods chain in Central New York, is heading to be sold in a bankruptcy auction.
According to the Rome Sentinel, the sporting goods retailer made an emergency motion in court on July 2 for the sale and auction of “substantially all the debtor’s assets.”
Owner Guy Viti told the Sentinel he expects the company to sell and that the process should wrap up by August.
“We’re trying to sell, and there’s somebody interested in buying the company, and probably extending the company back to its (pre-bankruptcy) size,” he said. “Closing is the wrong word. We’re trying to restructure this company to remain open in this area.”
He continued, “We’re not trying to go Chapter 7, we’re not trying to go bankrupt … The company’s really valuable for the community and really successful with the employees. I’m looking for a way to keep this company intact.”
Viti purchased the apparel and sporting/outdoor goods chain in early 2018 when Gary Philipson retired. He had worked for the local chain for three decades before purchasing it.
The retailer filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in October 2018 after its largest lender, Second Avenue Capital of Needham, MA pulled support and moved to liquidate the company. As of October, Second Avenue was over $2 million, according to court documents.
The move to hold an auction was prompted by challenges the retailer was facing securing inventory.
Philipson’s has closed three locations since entering bankruptcy proceedings and now has six in Oneida, Herkimer, New Hartford, Liverpool, Watertown, and Rome
Documents filed by Second Avenue state that Herb Philipson’s revenue declined from $43.5 million in 2016 to $39.8 million in 2017 and was projected to reach $26.3 million in 2018. When the business was first sold in March 2018, Herb Philipson had said it was in part prompted by heightened competition from online sites and reduced traffic.
But Viti told the Sentinel that the business remains viable.
Herb Philipson, known locally as Herb’s, was founded in downtown Rome in the summer of 1951 and sells sports and outdoor gear, apparel and work wear. Popular brands include Carhartt, Columbia, Levi, Lee, Under Armour, Dickies, Timberland, and The North Face. Herb Philipson is also the exclusive retailer for the Utica Comets Hockey Team and the new Utica City Football Club.
Photo courtesy Herb Philipson