November 4, 2014

Alco files for bankruptcy

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

It may be some time before Watford City area customers find out whether or not Alco will continue to be on their shopping list following an announcement last week that the company has filed for bankruptcy.
The 113-year-old retail chain’s filing was confirmed by court documents filed Oct. 12 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Texas, where the retailer’s corporate offices are located.
Alco Stores Inc. now faces either liquefying its assets or selling them, which could have an impact on all of their stores, including its Watford City location.
Kirk Riley, Watford City store manager, stated that he could not comment on the bankruptcy filing nor on its impact locally.
A press release issued by Alco stated that the company is devising a strategy to keep some or all of their more profitable stores open and operational while the retailer’s bankruptcy proceedings are pending in court.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Alco cited the effects of the “lingering economic slowdown” on its customers, many of whom are living on fixed or low incomes in rural areas.
While it has positioned its stores to avoid head-to-head competition with larger discount chains, Alco said it couldn’t escape the effects of economic distress in the U.S.
Founded in 1901 as a general-merchandising operation in Abilene, Kan., the company has 198 stores in 23 states.
The bankruptcy filing puts about 3,000 jobs on the line, most of them in stores located in small communities and sparsely populated regions.
While it seeks bankruptcy-court approval to move ahead with the liquidation, Alco will also be pursuing a going-concern sale that would preserve operations at some or all of the stores.
The Farmer placed a call into Alco’s corporate office on Monday morning, however they did not respond.