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Hasting files for Chapter 11; Tullahoma store likely closing

Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Gift cards valid until July 13

TULLAHOMA, Tenn. — Though the future of the Texas-based Hastings Entertainment chain is uncertain, this much is known: if you have a Hastings gift card in your purse or pocket, Wednesday was the last day to redeem it.

hastings-saleAll Hastings gift cards expired Wednesday, July 13, one month after the multimedia entertainment retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Hastings President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Litwak said last month that the additional financial support of the Chapter 11 process would help the business — including corporate parent Draw Another Circle and sister brands Movie Stop and SPImages — continue operation while a buyer was sought.

At the time of the June 13 filing, company officials said they expected the sale process would take 30 days; but as July 13 approaches with no buyer in sight, the entire Hastings chain may be facing closure.

The local branch manager declined to comment on the future of the Tullahoma store, but a June 10 letter from Litwak to employees of the Amarillo, Texas, headquarters and distribution center warned that the company could begin eliminating positions within 60 days if it could not secure a buyer or investor “in a timely manner.”

United States tax code requires that a business be slated for closure if no buyer is found within 30 days of filing for bankruptcy.

“We hope a sale agreement will be reached within the timeframe necessary but also must prepare for all contingencies,” said Litwak in the letter. “We may need to begin downsizing our corporate office and/or closing the entire Hastings chain due to our continuing financial challenges.”

The letter accompanied an official notice issued in accordance with the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which requires large employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of plant closings or mass layoffs.

The notice period ends Aug. 9.

Company officials say the bankruptcy comes in the face of declining demand for the physical media properties — music, movies, books, games and rentals — that once drove the majority of the company’s sales.

Hastings had hoped to attract investors by pointing to a handful of “refreshed” company stores that saw double-digit profit increases after transitioning the company focus from physical media to a variety of licensed products, comic books and collectibles that, unlike electronic media, can’t be downloaded.

In the wake of the filing, Hastings officials introduced belt-tightening measures last month, including the suspension of the company’s buyback program and game rentals.

Hastings, founded in 1968, operates 123 superstores with about 3,500 employees in 19 states.

In Tullahoma, Hastings is located at 1905 N. Jackson St., in the Forrest Gallery Shopping Center.

—By KELLY LAPCZYNSKI, Tullahoma News Staff Writer