Retailer files for bankruptcy, Upper Valley Mall store’s future unclear

The Upper Valley Mall received a blow this week after MC Sports, a national retailer based in Michigan, filed for bankruptcy and said it will begin immediate liquidation sales at all stores.

Company officials declined comment Wednesday afternoon and referred all questions to a news release. Officials at the Upper Valley Mall also didn’t return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

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The German Twp. mall has lost several large national tenants in recent years, including J.C. Penney, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery and Macy’s, along with a handful of other smaller national chains.

In most cases, mall officials have tried to fill those vacant spaces with smaller, local businesses.

Springfield isn’t alone facing the issue of struggling retailers, said George Degenhart, planning and zoning director for German Twp. Many traditional national retailers face mounting challenges as consumer shopping habits have shifted and more people purchase products online, he said.

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“If it’s going on in the country, we feel it in Springfield,” Degenhart said.

MC Sports will begin liquidation sales at all of its 68 stores nationwide, according to the news release, although it also will pursue alternative financing and sale options. The chain has several stores in Ohio, including Springfield, Piqua and Wilmington.

When a company is in trouble financially, it’s categorized as a “going concern,” said Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm headquartered in New York City. It’s unlikely the sporting goods stores will stay open after the bankruptcy filing, he said.

“It basically means they’re kaput,” Davidowitz said. “They’ll liquidate and that will be the end. There will be empty stores, as is going on every day. Different announcements are coming out daily.”

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Several other large sporting goods companies, including Sports Authority, have undergone similar liquidation sales and closings, he said.

“The sporting goods industry has been in trouble,” Davidowitz said.

Dick’s Sporting Goods — which recently opened a location on Bechtle Ave. in Springfield — is the largest player in the industry, he said.

“The question is: Can various people compete with them? Many people can’t,” Davidowitz said. “If you can’t, you’re going out of business.”

The country has too much retail space, Davidowitz said. At the same time, the only growth happening in the retail industry comes from online sales, he said.

“That’s a pretty terrible combination,” Davidowitz said.

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Some Springfield shoppers said Wednesday evening it’s been tough to watch stores move to Bechtle Avenue while the Upper Valley Mall loses well-known retailers.

Kim Phillips, of Springfield, said she often drives to Huber Heights or Beavercreek if there’s something she needs. She also said while nationally the economy has recovered, it often doesn’t seem to be the case in Springfield and wondered if that’s impacted how and where people shop.

“It’s rare we go to the mall,” Phillips said. “There’s nothing there.”

Most retail shopping has shifted toward Bechtle Avenue, said Glen Schmitz, of Springfield. It’s not clear exactly what would bring shoppers back, but he said it’s been difficult to watch.

“Everyone wants to go to Bechtle and no one comes this way,” Schmitz said. “You’re losing everything.”

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