UPDATED:

 

HEADQUARTERS :

 Rocky Hill, CT

 PRESIDENT :

 Joseph Ettore

 EMPLOYEES :

 22,000  ( Aug. 2002)

 STORES :

 467

 FOUNDED :

 1958

CLOSED :

 2002

 

Slogan:  Bargains by the bagful!

 

Ames was one of my favorite regional retailer.  With giants like Walmart, Target and Kmart, Ames stood in 4th position for a while.  They acquired chain after chains to expand and get to that position.  Of course, the Zayre acquisition has always been seen as one too many that almost killed the company.  They came through Chapter 11and learned many lessons during that difficult period.  Back then, Zayre was too big for the kind of chain Ames was.  When the company emerged, Ames began a profitable journey that unfortunately ended in 2002.

 

From 1996 to 2000, Ames opened new stores, they acquired the 155-store Hills chain, they bought some former Caldor and Goldblatt's locations. Ames expanded to the mid-west and continued it's growth.  They enjoyed a good period, but the Hills acquisition created a lot of debt and that, combined with a bad economy caused another "Zayre storm" for Ames. 

 

They had to re-organize again under chapter 11 and had to close almost 130 stores (mostly former Hills).  Other rounds of closings came, and in August 2002, the company had tu pull the plug on Amazing Ames and it’s long history.


 

OVERVIEW

 

The original Ames concept was «To bring discounts to the underserved rural areas» and they have done that very well.  Ames began in 1958 when two Connecticut brothers, Milton and Irving Gilman, opened their first store in the Ames Worsted Textile Co. mill in Southbridge, Mass. In its first year of operations, the store generated $1 million in sales, encouraging a third Gilman brother, Herbert, to join the Company in 1959. The Company began opening stores in upstate New York and northern Vermont as it followed a business strategy of bringing discount stores to under-served smaller towns and rural areas in the Northeast. In 1962, the Company went public as Ames Department Stores, Inc., and by 1970, there were 23 Ames stores in operation, with $50 million in annual sales.


Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Company expanded its store base both organically and through the acquisition of other chains in the Northeast. Acquired companies included: Joseph Leavitt and K&R Warehouse in 1972; Davis Wholesale in 1978; Neisner Brothers' in 1978; King's in 1984; G.C. Murphy's in 1985; and Zayre in 1988. While the acquisitions between 1972 and 1995 helped the Company grow into a leading player in the discount retail market, its 1988 acquisition of Zayre's proved disastrous.  After closing 74 Zayre's stores, the Company began converting the remaining 318. The effort went slowly and proved to be very costly. The Company sold the Zayre shoe concession to J. Baker in May 1989, and sold 130 G.C. Murphy stores and 25 Bargain World stores in September 1989. Even after recouping approximately $137.6 million from the sale of the G.C. Murphy and Bargain World stores, the cumulative effects of the Zayre's acquisition drove the Company to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code in April 1990, as unpaid vendors refused to ship new merchandise to the Company.   In october 1989, the 11 Zayre stores in NH were renamed Ames.  At that time here was 27 Ames in the state and 632 nationwide.


During its Chapter 11 case, the Company sold its wholesale sporting goods division, Mathews & Boucher, in 1992. That same year it sued the investment banking firm that had advised it to buy the Zayre's chain, alleging it paid too much based on receiving "inaccurate and misleading information and self-interested advice." The suit was settled in 1994 for $19 million (after Ames' emergence from its reorganization case). During its Chapter 11 case, Ames closed 370 stores, successfully exiting bankruptcy late in 1992. In early 1993, the Company decided to close an additional 60 stores, not previously slated for closure during the bankruptcy reorganization case.


The broad product mix, discount pricing and convenient shopping hours were enormously popular with their customers.  Ames underwent a major growth spurt in 1998, increasing their store count by 50% with the purchase of the 155 Hills Department Stores chain and ten former Caldor sites. Ames operated 456 stores in 19 states and the District of Columbia in 1999.

Ames had a unique program offering special discounts for customers 55 and older, the 55 Gold® Savings Card, and a special purchase program called Special Buys, which generates customer excitement by offering substantial savings on close-out merchandise, prominently displayed throughout the stores' main traffic aisles.


No matter what the size of the community they continued to carry out the original mission of the Gilman brothers in providing quality service to the underserved, time-starved customer looking for great value.  After the Hills acquisition, Ames went from 301 to 456 stores and became the nation 4th largest discount chain behind Walmart, Kmart and Target.  It was the nation's largest regional full-line discount retailer with annual sales of over $4 billion.

A slow and painful demise...

In March 1999, Ames closed 8 stores in markets where its Ames stores and its newly acquired Hills units overlapped.  In November 2000, Ames closed 32 stores, 31 of wich were acquired from Hills. In August 2001, Ames closed another 47 stores and filled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Ames closed 16 stores and a distribution center in November that year.  In December 2001, Ames closed an additional 54 stores leaving the chain with 333 stores.  Ames closed 6 stores in June 2002.  Ames announced on August 14 2002 it would go out of business closing it's last 327 stores after 44 years of operation.

 

ME/NH LOCATIONS

MAINE
Skowhegan
Augusta
Waterville
Houlton
Rockland
Belfast
Bangor I
Rumford
Ellsworth
Brunswick
Jay
Wiscasset
Oxford
Falmouth
MAINE
Newport
Portland
Sanford
Calais
Millinocket
Wells
Farmington
Saco
Bangor II
Dover-Foxcroft
South Portland
Lewiston
Caribou
Orono
NEW HAMPSHIRE
Concord
Keene
Manchester I
Manchester II
Nashua I
Nashua II
Milford
Ossipee
Hooksett
Plaistow
Stratham
Woodsville
Tilton
Walpole
NEW HAMPSHIRE
Dover
Seabrook
Salem
Plymouth
Claremont
Somersworth
West Lebanon
Groveton
Belmont
Newport
Londonderry
Peterborough

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AMES PICTURES


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