Linens 'n Things Bankrupt

Big Box Bankruptcy a Sign of Things to Come?

Big box retailer and wedding registry superstar Linens 'n Things will close all of its U.S. and Canadian stores, including 10 GTA locations. The latest victim of the economic meltdown, Linens 'n Things will go out of business after filing for bankruptcy protection in May, closing 120 stores, and then failing to turn things around.

With home prices falling, angst over property assessments and talk of recession, the comings and goings of Toronto retailers (especially the big box ones who shut out the local independents) can slip under the radar.

Or maybe that's just because we're all too busy looking at our own bottom lines.

Winnipeg blogger Chris D mentions it's not just the big box stores in trouble in his part of the country, and some of Toronto's independent shops must be worried about their fate, too.

Although if I were Placewares - offering all the same stuff, in a fraction of the space - I'd be doing a quiet happy dance.

As the cost of property taxes take their toll on homeowners, the relatively stable (so far) Canadian retail sector may start to take a hit, and small business owners may have noticed a drop in sales with the economic woes of September and October. We'll see what that means for some of Toronto's independent retail players, such as our best vintage furniture shops, green retailers, or vintage clothing stores.

Toronto wedding registry titans William Ashley and The Bay seem to be weathering the storm so far, but it will be interesting to see if Linens 'n Things' direct competitor Bed Bath & Beyond slows its Canadian expansion plans, or capitalizes on liquidation sales.

I can't say I'm too worked up about the loss of Linens 'n Things. It's a specialty big box store that was mostly good just for registries, and an impressive wall of kitchen gadgets (although I've always preferred Bed Bath & Beyond in the States). But I'm glad I don't have an upcoming wedding for which I'm registered at Linens 'n Things. One of the best reasons to register there was the return policy, which has now disappeared, even faster than the stores.

Oh, and a note for any Linens 'n Things employees: you may want to update the careers page to indicate you're no longer "seeking great talent."


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