• Last modified 1756 days ago (Oct. 29, 2014)


Alco hopes to survive corporate bankruptcy filing

Staff writer

After a decline in the second quarter of the fiscal year, Alco Stores Inc. announced on Oct. 13 that it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company intends to either sell or liquidate.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is indicative of corporate restructuring, and shouldn’t have an immediate impact on the Hillsboro location, Store Manager Robert Berens said.

“We’re going on 20 years here in Hillsboro, and as of this moment we intend to be here for the next 20 years and beyond,” he said.

Alco is keeping normal store hours.

“The company’s struggles are reflected in our store, as they are in every Alco store, all 198 of them,” Berens said.

Berens said the biggest way in which those struggles are reflected is the store’s in-stock selection.

“No one is going to lie about it, as store manager, I’m proud of our store, proud of our company, but I know what our customers are feeling,” he said.

Berens said the bankruptcy may free up resources to improve the quality of in-store stock at the store.

“The No. 1 thing that will keep us afloat is if customers give us another chance,” Berens said. “The freight is slowly beginning to flow again. Bankruptcy tends to free up resources.”

The corporation reported $7 million less in net sales from last year’s second quarter figure, including $10.3 declines from same-stores.

Berens said his store has seen improvements in the bottom line in the 12 months since he’s been there, and that he hasn’t “seen any major decline” in customer count or sales.

Court documents state that Alco targets smaller markets without “other regional or national broad line retail chains … to provide the most convenient access to retail shopping within each market.” The document states that 78 percent of Alco’s stores operate in markets without other broad line retailers.

With a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market set to break ground in early 2015, the Hillsboro location will no longer be part of that 78 percent.

Nonetheless, Berens said Alco has no plans to close the store.

“We expect to be a part of the landscape come that company’s groundbreaking next year,” Berens said.

Even with the added competition, Berens said Alco can thrive if the citizens of Hillsboro support local businesses by shopping at multiple stores.

“The competition that comes to town will not be the death of everyone, there’s enough money in town to go around,” he said. “You can shop at the Wal-Mart — I’ll say the name — you can spend some at Alco, at Heartland Foods, at Dale’s, at the local pharmacy.

“Bankruptcy’s not always the end. It’s just a pause button, a chance to catch up.”

Last modified Oct. 29, 2014