Do Store Closures Suggest Gardeners Eden Sale Is Near?

Although Merrimack, NH-based Brookstone is mum on the subject, news of the closure of its five Gardeners Eden stores suggests that the company is getting closer to a sale of its outdoor gardening business.

Brookstone announced its intention to sell the business on June 28.

Gardeners Eden has stores located in Avon, Farmington, South Windsor, and Westport, CT, and in Chestnut Hill, MA. Spokesperson Robert Padgett will say only, “We are continuing to sell through the inventory until we sell the business,” and that several parties are interested in Gardeners Eden. The fall 2005 Gardeners Eden catalog mailed Aug. 15.

Several Gardeners Eden store managers confirmed the closure. When pressed for an actual closure date, a representative from the Chestnut Hill store commented, “We will remain open until there is no more inventory.” The company is selling outdoor furniture and accessories merchandise discounted at 30% and more.

In addition to Gardeners Eden and the flagship Brookstone catalog and stores, which sell high-tech gadgets and gifts, the company mails the Hard-to-Find Tools catalog. On April 15, Brookstone signed a definitive agreement to be sold to OSIM International, J.W. Childs Associates, and Temasek Capital.

Founded in 1982 by entrepreneur Ruth Owades, the Gardeners Eden catalog was sold to San Francisco-based multititle mailer Williams-Sonoma in the late 1980s; Williams-Sonoma sold it to Brookstone in 1999. Gardeners Eden had sales of $16 million last year; it also had a pretax operating loss of $3.6 million.

According to Larry West, president of New York-based investment bank West Cos., closing stores isn’t unusual prior to selling a primarily direct business, particularly when a potential buyer who may not have any interest in the stores comes forward: “This is often a normal step for someone driving toward closing a catalog transaction.”

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