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Running out of business, City Sports store to close

As chain faces bankruptcy, store to see fate of four other vacant Thayer Street properties

The City Sports store on Thayer Street will close its doors by the end of October as part of the company’s Delaware Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization strategy, wrote Eve Bould, director of marketing for City Sports, in an email to The Herald.

As part of its filing for bankruptcy, City Sports, a Boston-based athletic apparel chain, is in the process of securing a new financial partner and is closing eight of its “underperforming retail locations,” Bould wrote. The exact date of closing for the chain’s Providence location depends on how quickly remaining merchandise sells, she added.

The store reduced prices by 30 to 60 percent this week to liquidate the stock as quickly as possible. Signs on the shop’s windows also indicate that the store is in its final 10 days of business.

Once City Sports shuts its doors, it will join two other empty storefronts on the block, including the recently closed ZuZu’s Petals and a second-floor property above Berks Shoes and Clothing Store. Two more properties on  Thayer adjacent to campus are also unoccupied, one of which has a for-lease sign.

City Sports’s current location was formerly home to the Gap, a national clothing retailer. The Gap closed its store on Thayer in late 2004, The Herald reported at the time.

Since then, City Sports has emerged as a staple of Thayer Street. The store provided students and the larger Providence community with both its athletic gear and retail employment opportunities.

Mya Roberson ’16, a former employee of City Sports, worked at the store part-time during her freshman and sophomore years, she wrote in an email to The Herald. City Sports accommodated her student schedule, including University breaks, and paid her above minimum wage, she wrote, adding that the store truly valued customer service.

“They were a great company to work for. … I’m quite saddened to hear about the closing of the Providence location and many other stores in the chain,” Roberson wrote.

While the store was a popular shopping location for students, some students are only now taking a greater interest in the store because of its recently posted price reductions, said Britton Edelen ’19.

City Sports does not plan to open another Rhode Island location in the near future, Bould wrote, adding that its other 18 locations across the country — including nine in the Boston area — will remain open.

With the closing of stores also comes the displacement of employees. But Marty Hanaka, chief executive officer of City Sports, told the Boston Business Journal Oct. 5 that he hopes to lessen that burden.

The company is making efforts to offer displaced employees positions at other locations where possible, Hanaka said.

According to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy forms filed Oct. 5, City Sports owes its top five creditors — Nike, Under Armour, Asics, Patagonia and the North Face — a total of over $5.3 million.

Despite the store closings and significant debt, both Bould and Hanaka expressed optimism for the company’s future.

“We hope to emerge from the process healthier than ever, and well-positioned for the future,” Bould wrote.

The fate of the 271 Thayer St. storefront and the other nearby vacant locations remains undetermined.

The Thayer Street District Management Authority could not be reached for comment by press time.

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