Sports Authority begins going-out-of-business sale at stores nationwide

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NEW YORK — The red signs are up — Sports Authority began its going-out-of-business sale months before it’s slated to close all 450 stores nationwide.

Sports Authority started the sale Thursday just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

“GOING OUT OF BUSINESS,” the retailer wrote on the top of its site. “Everything now up to 30% off original ticketed price.”

The liquidation sale varies in each location. The company said it will close all its stores across the country by the end of August. Gift cards will be honored though June 27.

Sports Authority has three locations in New York City and  21 in New Jersey. Find the nearest store here.

Sports Authority, once the nation’s largest sporting goods retailer, announced in May it will close its remaining stores after failing to find a buyer for them.

It also said it found a group of buyers for its remaining assets, including inventory, furniture and other fixtures.

When it filed for bankruptcy in March, the company said it would close only 140 of its 450 stores. But when it failed to reach a deal with creditors and lenders, it announced it would sell all its assets. Still, there was some hope that it might find a buyer who would keep the chain running.

When Sports Authority was bought by a hedge fund 10 years ago, it was the largest sporting goods retailer. But it has struggled with the debt load associated with that leveraged buyout a decade ago. It has been overtaken by Dick’s Sporting Goods, a more high end retailer.

“Someone who wants to shop in a brick-and-mortar store and try on the baseball glove, or get the feel of a golf club, wants a better shopping experience,” said Larry Perkins, of SierraConstellation Partners, an expert in retail reorganizations. “That’s not Sports Authority any more.”

Perkins said the store faced competition from big box stores, as well as online threats from Amazon and websites run by major sports leagues like the NFL and NBA that sell team merchandise.

“I think it’s safe to say they’re surrounded, with competitive forces pushing them from every direction,” he said.

Sports Authority is just the latest retail giant to fall on hard times.

RadioShack went bankrupt a year ago, and American Apparel filed in October, although both companies remain in business with fewer stores. But even retailers who are not in financial distress are closing their weaker performing stores. Among chains trimming locations are Walmart, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Target, Sears and Kmart.

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