Outfitter to file for bankruptcy

Posted: Friday, January 28, 2005

PHOENIX (AP) — Popular Outdoor Outfitters, a chain of camping and outdoor gear retail stores, will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, company officials said.

The privately held company founded in Glendale in 1952 will seek bankruptcy protection after a group of creditors sought a liquidation in bankruptcy court.

Three creditors say they are owed $132,500 by the company and filed for their own involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy in December.

''It's not the usual step you want to take,'' said Jay Indyke, a New York attorney representing the creditors. ''They would have preferred the company have a meeting with them and explain the game plan for paying them back, but they didn't do that.''

Popular officials said the reorganization will allow the company to focus on its higher-performing stores.

''As any business will do, we are going to maintain profitability for our company, and sometimes that requires tough decisions,'' General Manager Jim Scott said.

He said the company plans to file for Chapter 11 as soon as possible.

Slowing sales since 2001 have forced the company to close many of its stores. At its peak, it operated 23 stores in Arizona and New Mexico. It now has just eight stores, all in Arizona.

Popular has faced stiff competition from discount retailers, but Scott said the company's difficulties stem from the Southwest's prolonged drought, which has led to little snow skiing and canceled camping plans because of forest fires.

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