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Pier 1 is going out of business

Pier 1 announced the shutdown of about half of its stores this winter and now plans to liquidate entirely. Above, a closeout sale in February at a store in Larchmont, N.Y.
Pier 1 announced the shutdown of about half of its stores this winter and now plans to liquidate entirely. Above, a closeout sale in February at a store in Larchmont, N.Y.
(Julie Jacobson / Associated Press)

Pier 1 Imports Inc., a home furnishing chain that expanded throughout the U.S. starting in the 1960s, is liquidating it business as soon as it can get its stores open again.

The retailer filed for bankruptcy protection in February and moved to shut about half of its stores, trying to reorganize about 450 locations or find a buyer who would keep the business alive.

The coronavirus pandemic dashed those hopes.

Pier 1 said Tuesday that it filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking “an orderly wind-down of the company’s retail operations as soon as reasonably possible after [stores] are able to reopen.”

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The decision follows months of working to identify a buyer, Chief Executive Robert Riesbeck said. “Unfortunately, the challenging retail environment has been significantly compounded by the profound impact of COVID-19, hindering our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down.”

Pier 1 was founded in 1962 in San Mateo, Calif., and moved its headquarters to Fort Worth in 1966, eventually becoming one of the largest U.S. home furnishings specialty stores with 1,100 locations and sales of nearly $2 billion. For generations it was a go-to store for adding a layer of style to a dorm room or home.

Pier 1 graduated from focusing on beanbag and papasan chairs, love beads and incense to offering unique home furnishings and decorative accessories under its own private label. In the 1990s, it expanded into Britain and Mexico with boutiques inside Sears stores.

But it shut down its online business in 2007 and relaunched it in 2012, creating a gap in its online presence as shoppers were gravitating toward e-commerce.

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More recently, competition in the home-furnishings sector has been fierce not only from online stalwarts Wayfair Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. but also from Walmart Inc. and Target Corp., which stepped up the quality of their merchandise. At the same time, competitors moved into more markets. Ikea opened more stores and TJX Cos.’ HomeGoods chain rapidly expanded.

And the pandemic has made retailers’ challenges harder. Other chains that have failed to connect with customers and have filed for bankruptcy protection this month include J.C. Penney Co. and J. Crew Group Inc. Those two retailers are still working on plans to emerge from bankruptcy and continue operating.

Until Pier 1 stores can reopen, the company is continuing to sell online.

The deadline for bids for the remaining assets would be July 1, with a July 8 auction date and a July 15 sale hearing.

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Halkias writes for the Dallas Morning News. The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.


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