Brookstone files for Chapter 11, powers down all of its mall massage chairs… forever

Brookstone files for Chapter 11, closes all of its 101 mall locations as the vacancies in malls continue to rise.

Too melodramatic? Good, because that’s how our inner 14-16-year-old selves are feeling right now.

Remember the last time you were getting your blades squeezed and feet kneaded at your local mall’s Brookstone by one of those ostentatious, usually black pleather, massage chairs? 

If you do, keep it close, because the ubiquitous broker of cool comfort gadgets has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection a-gain, and will close 101 mall store locations — AKA, every last massaging one of them.

“I… Declare. BANKRUPTCY!!!” — Michael Scott

Brookstone got its start as a catalog retailer in 1965 selling “hard-to-find tools.” Their eclectic array of offerings brought them years of success, but debt and floundering sales eventually weighed them down.

They filed for bankruptcy in 2014 and later sold to a group of Chinese investors.

Court papers show that Brookstone’s mall stores have operated at a loss yearly since 2014, bringing in net sales of roughly $138m in 2017, down from $188m in 2016.

It’s hard out there for a mall store

The rise of online shopping has pushed mall vacancy rates to a 6-year high..

Brookstone has closed dozens of stores since 2014, and they’re not alone. A whopping 9k mall stores closed in 2017, and that number is only expected to rise.

The hope now lies within airports

As Brookstone waves goodbye to the malls of America, they lined up a $30m bankruptcy loan to keep the chairs on in the company’s 35 airport locations while trying to work out a deal to sell.

The airport stores, which sell products from travel pillows to sleep masks, have been a bright spot for the beleaguered mall-boyfriend rest stop, bringing in nearly $38m last year.

In other words, massage chairs may not be dead, but malls definitely are.

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