Slogan: Bargains by the bagful!
Ames was one of the leading regional discount tore chain. Ames once stood as the nation's fourth largest discount chain behind Kmart, Target and Walmart. Over the years, Ames acquired several discount chains to expand. Of course, the Zayre acquisition became infamous for being the one that almost killed the compant. They went through Chapter 11 and reorganized to bounce back after a long difficult period. Back then, Zayre was too big to swallow for a small chain like Ames. When Ames emerged, it became profitable again.
From 1996 to 2000, Ames resumed opening 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 occured after that, and in August 2002, the company had to pull the plug on Amazing Ames and it’s long history.
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.
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 its last 327 stores after 44 years of operation.
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