Meriden, Connecticut- One of New England’s most popular outdoor retail brands has filed for bankruptcy.

Retail Dive reported last week that Mountain Sports LLC, which owns Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. For outdoorsy people, the most notable brand in this bankruptcy is EMS, which is a store catered to hikers, backpackers, kayakers, and other outdoorsy folk.

In the bankruptcy filing, their CEO, Dave Barton, stated they needed money immediately to send out payroll. PNC Bank says Mountain Sports LLC owes them $30 million. On March 29th, PNC Bank declared Mountain Sports LLC in default, as they took control of cash and receivables. On June 12th, PNC Bank stopped paying for their operations. In addition, Mountain Sports LLC owes $27 million in operating expenses, including unpaid rent.

This news shouldn’t come as a big surprise to those who have followed the company closely. The company previously filed for bankruptcy in 2017. It was bought by Sports Direct (now known as Frasers Group) in 2017 and sold to the GoDigital Media Group in 2022. Last year, they released a bizarre advertisement apologizing for some of their stores closing in the past. This year, numerous Bob’s and EMS stores closed across the Northeast region.

Growing competition in the outdoor gear industry is likely a factor in the bankruptcy. Amazon and other online retailers have continued to chew away at in-store sales for places like EMS. Dick’s Sporting Goods has grown its presence by expanding into selling more outdoor gear brands. In addition, REI has grown its presence, opening new stores across New England.

I’m bummed out about this, as I bought a lot of my outdoor gear and clothing from there over the past decade or so. I wouldn’t say I’m a frequent customer of theirs, but I am a rewards member, as they do offer some great deals. I hope they find a way to stick around, as this place is New England’s version of REI.

Image/Video Credits: Eastern Mountain Sports

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