Hastings, the largest comic book chain store in the United States, is in a spot of trouble, and if something doesn’t happen in the next 60 days, the chain store may be forced to close.
Over the last several months I had noticed that our local Hastings store was not bringing in a lot of new product, had sales on a lot of its merchandise at odd times of the year, and just this weekend, there are massive sales including 50% off most items in the store. I had inquired locally about this for a while, and everyone seemed to brush my concerns to the wayside as something that wouldn’t happen here, because Hastings happens to be the only local music, book, and comic book store for our city of 20,000. There is a FLGS in town, but it has odd hours, making it difficult to pop in at lunchtime to pick something up for game night.
It looks like those observations weren’t merely me worrying over nothing, as the company has confirmed it is seeking a buyer for its chain of 126 stores, and if it can’t find one in the next 60 days, it will close the entire chain due to “continuing financial challenges.”
In a statement issued by Hasting, vice president of marketing and advertising, Kevin Bell, stated:
“Hastings has been working diligently to overcome our business challenges and we have made significant progress with a remerchandising strategy and other initiatives aimed at increasing profitability. To continue our transformation, we have initiated a comprehensive process to identify a buyer or investor that will give us the additional financial stability we need to move forward. While we are hopeful a sale agreement will be reached, we also have a responsibility to prepare for all contingencies.
“As a result, we were obligated to formally notify our associates that, if a sale agreement cannot be achieved in a timely manner, we may need to begin downsizing our corporate office and/or closing the entire Hastings chain due to our continuing financial challenges. Our management team believes there are a number of parties that would be interested in acquiring our brand, and we are doing everything possible to create a strong future for our business and for this great team.”
Hastings was founded in 1968, but was sold for $21.4 million to Draw Another Circle, LLC in 2014. In 2010, Hastings made a major effort to increase its comic book presence, adding a major section to its stores to accommodate new comics, as well as a massive back issue collection at each of its locations. This also allowed comic book tie-in products (toys, statues, storage boxes and bags) to increase in number at the store. Hastings has teamed with Valiant Entertainment for in-store activities and events, and has even locked down convention exclusives for toy fans. For medium sized cities around the country, this became the only place to find comics and table top games, and now that source of entertainment is threatened.
Though a majority of my comic book reading has shifted to digital editions, I still make a pass in the comic aisle at our local Hastings every week to scoop up those comics I really want to have a physical copy of for my collection. Likewise, when it comes to picking up new games, Hastings has become the first stop to get my hands on something new right away. With the closing of brick and mortar book stores, and with the increased reliance on Amazon to ship products in a few days, Hastings may have lasted longer than many expected.
If a buyer isn’t found, the next 60 days will see a slew of sales, lack of new merchandise, and another source of entertainment vanish into the night.
via Amarillo Globe News and