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Hancock Fabrics to close 185 stores after filing for bankruptcy in February

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Hancock Fabrics, which has two Columbia locations, will close its remaining 185 stores nationwide. The specialty retailer of crafts and fabric based in Baldwyn, Miss., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early February.

On Friday, Hancock stores began going-out-of-business sales that are expected to continue for several weeks until all merchandise is sold.

The company originally planned to close just 70 stores while seeking a buyer that would keep the remaining stores open. The chain also filed for bankruptcy in 2007 and posted a profit just once, in 2009, following a reorganization.

Liquidator Great American Group was the highest bidder on Hancock’s assets and inventory, acquiring Hancock for a reported $65 million. The United States Bankruptcy Court of Delaware approved the sale on March 30, calling Great American the “highest and best” bidder.

“Great American Group has worked closely with Hancock Fabrics in a range of capacities over the last several years,” said Great American spokesperson Scott Carpenter in a release. “This has given us a deep understanding of Hancock’s inventory and assets, which ultimately allowed us to prevail as the highest bidder.”

A message left at Hancock’s Baldwyn headquarters was not immediately returned Monday.

A manager answering the phone at Hancock’s store at 266 Harbison Blvd. said she was expecting the announcement. She referred other questions to the company’s customer service number, to which calls could not be completed Monday afternoon, and declined to give her name.

Hancock also has a Columbia location at 109 Shakespeare Lane.

The store’s website, hancockfabrics.com, features a large, brightly colored announcement of a going-out-of-business sale, touting 20-to-50% off every item while supplies last. All sales are final.

The company was founded in 1957 in Tupelo, Miss.

Before filing for Chapter 11 in February, Hancock looked for potential bidders. It hired a firm which contacted 69 potential buyers, 28 of whom drew up confidentiality agreements with Hancock. Letters of interest were due by Nov. 18, but none were submitted, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. In December, Hancock sought stalking-horse bidders with a backup bid from Great American at the ready.

The paper reported that up to 4,500 jobs could be lost.

Since 2012, Hancock generated a positive operating cash flow once, in fiscal year 2014. For its most recent fiscal year, Hancock’s sales were $283.1 million, up from $276 million the previous year.

Contact Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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