ONEONTA _ Any hopes of Steve & Barry's opening at the Southside Mall vanished Thursday with a second bankruptcy filing in federal court.
The low-cost clothing retailer is closing all its remaining stores. The company was purchased at a bankruptcy auction in August by BHY S&B Holdings Inc. for $168 million after the original owner filed for bankruptcy in July.
Now that the purchasing company and its associated companies filed for bankruptcy, all the assets of Steve & Barry's will be liquidated, according to federal court records.
The filing was widely expected after BHY S&B Holdings hired restructuring advisers earlier this month.
Mall manager Jessica Dombrowksi declined to comment on the demise of Steve & Barry's earlier this week, but said the space that was to be occupied by the store is for rent.
"The space is being aggressively marketed," she said.
Steve & Barry's was expected to open in the former Kmart space at the Southside Mall before Christmas 2007. But company, mall and town officials cited problems with the roof above the 82,000-square-foot anchor space as a reason behind the slow progress.
Steve & Barry's filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection July 9. Less than a month before the bankruptcy filing, company officials said they were committed to opening the Oneonta store sometime in summer 2008.
On several occasions since BHY S&B Holdings purchased Steve & Barry's, officials with the company said no decision had been made on whether the Oneonta store would open.
Kmart, one of the original anchors at the mall, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2002. The Oneonta store, which shut its doors in 2003, was one of hundreds nationwide to be closed during corporate restructuring. The space, the largest in the mall, has remained vacant since then.
Steve & Barry's cited a lack of cash and the high costs of materials and fuel prices as factors prompting the July bankruptcy filing.
However, financial analysts have said the company suffered from growing too big too quickly, relying on payments from landlords to open in distressed locations and a thin profit margin on its merchandise, most of which sold for less than $10.
Steve & Barry's is known for its celebrity lines of merchandise, including actress Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten collection and a line sponsored by tennis star Venus Williams.
BHY S&B Holdings, which closed about one-third of the stores after the chain was purchased, cited an inability to secure financing and disappointing sales at remaining stores as reasons for the second bankruptcy filing. Full liquidation is expected by the end of this year or early next year, according to the court documents.
At its peak earlier this year, Steve & Barry's had 276 stores and employed more than 5,000 people.