K’s Merchandise Mart Going Out of Business

After nearly 50 years, K’s Merchandise Mart is going out of business and will close its 17 stores in the Midwest, including its Rockford, Ill., location. Liquidation sales begin Oct. 5 at all K’s stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri.

Stores will be closed Oct. 4 in preparation for the sales.

Founded in Decatur in 1957 as a hardlines merchandise wholesaler, the family-owned K’s grew into a strong regional operator of catalog showroom stores. It has served small and medium-sized communities with a broad range of brand name products, including sporting goods, furniture, electronics, housewares and jewelry. Expansion of K’s began in 1973 in Champaign. The Rockford store opened in 1984. Located at 175 Executive Parkway, the store will remain open until all merchandise has been sold.

K’s catalog showroom concept served customers and company growth plans well for decades. The company focused on building strong customer relationships through exceptional service, on-site repair capabilities and customer-friendly purchase terms, including layaway and 90 days same-as-cash policies. K’s broad range of merchandise was a competitive advantage. However, in recent years, the product mix created more challenges as it forced K’s to compete in many categories and with many players—national big box operators, specialty stores and online shopping, said Bill Weinstein, president of K’s Merchandise Mart.

In January of this year, K’s primary lender declared the company in default and the business appeared on the verge of bankruptcy. With the help of merchant banking and retail specialist Gordon Brothers Group of Boston, the company reached an out-of-court agreement with creditors.

Hopeful that the business could survive, Gordon Brothers Group provided a cash infusion to increase investments in marketing and merchandise, revamp the furniture department and expand the jewelry offering.